ADVENTURE OF THE CALIPH HAROON AL RUSHEED.
The caliph Haroon al Rusheed was one day suffering from depression of spirits, when his faithful and favourite grand vizier Jaaffier came to him. This minister finding him alone, which was seldom the case, and perceiving as he approached that he was in a very melancholy humour, and never lifted up his eyes, stopped till he should vouchsafe to look at him.
At last the caliph turned his eyes towards him, but presently withdrew them again, and remained in the same posture motionless as before.
The grand vizier, observing nothing in the caliph's eyes which regarded him personally, took the liberty to speak to him, and said, "Commander of the faithful, will your majesty give me leave to ask whence proceeds this melancholy, of which you always seemed to me so little susceptible?"
"Indeed, vizier," answered the caliph, brightening up his countenance, "I am very little subject to it, and had not perceived it but for you, but I will remain no longer in this hippish mood. If no new affair brought you hither, you will gratify me by inventing something to dispel it."
"Commander of the faithful," replied the grand vizier, "my duty obliged me to wait on you, and I take the liberty to remind your majesty, that this is the day which you have appointed to inform yourself of the good government of your capital and its environs; and this occasion very opportunely presents itself to dispel those clouds which obscure your natural gaiety."
"You do well to remind me," replied the caliph, "for I had entirely forgotten it; go and change your dress, while I do the same."
They each put on the habit of a foreign merchant, and under that disguise went out by a private door of the palace-garden, which led into the country. After they had gone round part of the city to the banks of the Euphrates, at some distance from the walls, without having observed anything disorderly, they crossed the river in the first boat they met, and making a tour on the other side, crossed the bridge, which formed the communication betwixt the two parts of the town.
At the foot of this bridge they met an old blind man, who asked alms of them; the caliph turned about, and put a piece of gold into his hand. The blind man instantly caught hold of his hand, and stopped him; "Charitable person," said he, "whoever you are, whom God hath inspired to bestow alms on me, do not refuse the favour I ask of you, to give me a box on the ear, for I deserve that, and a greater punishment." Having thus spoken, he let the caliph's hand go, that he might strike, but for fear he should pass on without doing it, held him fast by his clothes.
The caliph, surprised both at the words and action of the blind man, said, "I cannot comply with your request. I will not lessen the merit of my charity, by treating you as you would have me." After these words, he endeavoured to get away from the blind man.
The blind man, who expected this reluctance of his benefactor, exerted himself to detain him. "Sir," said he, "forgive my boldness and importunity; I desire you would either give me a box on the ear, or take your alms back again, for I cannot receive it but on that condition, without breaking a solemn oath, which I have sworn to God; and if you knew the reason, you would agree with me that the punishment is very slight."
The caliph, unwilling to be detained any longer, yielded to the importunity of the blind man, and gave him a very slight blow: whereupon he immediately let him go, thanked and blessed him. When the caliph and vizier had got so me small distance from the blind man, the caliph said to Jaaffier, "This blind man must certainly have some very uncommon reasons, which make him behave himself in this manner to all who give him alms. I should be glad to know them; therefore return, tell him who I am, and bid him not fail to come to my palace about prayer-time in the afternoon of to-morrow, that I may have some conversation with him."
The grand vizier returned, bestowed his alms on the blind man, and after he had given him a box on the ear, told him the caliph's order, and then returned to the caliph.
When they came into the town, they found in a square a great crowd of spectators, looking at a handsome well-shaped young man, who was mounted on a mare, which he drove and urged full speed round the place, spurring and whipping the poor creature so barbarously, that she was all over sweat and blood.
The caliph, amazed at the inhumanity of the rider, stopped to ask the people if they knew why he used the mare so ill; but could learn nothing, except that for some time past he had every day, at the same hour, treated her in the same manner.
At they went along, the caliph bade the grand vizier take particular notice of the place, and not fail to order the young man to attend the next day at the hour appointed to the blind man. But before the caliph got to his palace, he observed in a street, which he had not passed through a long time before, an edifice newly built, which seemed to him to be the palace of some one of the great lords of the court. He asked the grand vizier if he knew to whom it belonged; who answered he did not, but would inquire; and thereupon asked a neighbour, who told him that the house was that of one Khaujeh Hassan, surnamed Al Hubbaul, on account of his original trade of rope-making, which he had seen him work at himself, when poor; that without knowing how fortune had favoured him, he supposed he must have acquired great wealth, as he defrayed honourably and splendidly the expenses he had been at in building.
The grand vizier rejoined the caliph, and gave him a full account of what he had heard. "I must see this fortunate rope-maker," said the caliph, "therefore go and tell him to come to my palace at the same hour you have ordered the other two." Accordingly the vizier obeyed.
The next day, after afternoon prayers, the caliph retired to his own apartment, when the grand vizier introduced the three persons we have been speaking of, and presented them to the caliph.
They all three prostrated themselves before the throne, and when they rose up, the caliph asked the blind man his name, who answered, it was Baba Abdoollah.
"Baba Abdoollah," replied the caliph, "your manner of asking alms seemed so strange to me yesterday, that if it had not been for some private considerations I should not have complied with your request, but should have prevented you from giving any more offence to the public. I ordered you to come hither, to know from yourself what could have induced you to make the indiscreet oath you told me of, that I may judge whether you have done well, and if I ought to suffer you to continue a practice that appears to me to set so ill an example. Tell me freely how so extravagant a thought came into your head, and do not disguise any thing from me, for I will absolutely know the truth."
Baba Abdoollah, intimidated by this reprimand, cast himself a second time at the foot of the caliph's throne, with his face to the ground, and when he rose up, said, "Commander of the faithful, I most humbly ask your majesty's pardon for my presumption, in daring to have required, and almost forced you to do a thing which indeed appears so contrary to reason. I acknowledge my offence, but as I did not then know your majesty, I implore your clemency, and hope you will consider my ignorance.
"As to the extravagance of my action, I own it, and own also that it must seem strange to mankind; but in the eye of God it is a slight penance I have enjoined myself for an enormous crime of which I have been guilty, and for which, if all the people in the world were each to give me a box on the ear, it would not be a sufficient atonement. Your majesty will judge of this yourself, when, in telling my story, in obedience to your commands I shall inform you what that heinous crime was."
The Story of Baba Abdoollah.
Commander of the faithful, I was born at Bagdad, had a moderate fortune left me by my father and mother, who died within a few days of each other. Though I was then but young, I did not squander away my fortune as most young men do, in idle expenses and debauchery; on the contrary, I neglected no opportunity to increase it by my industry. At last I became rich enough to purchase fourscore camels, which I let out to merchants for caravans, who paid me well for every journey I went with them throughout the extent of your majesty's dominions.
In the midst of this prosperity, and with an ardent desire of growing much richer, as I was returning one day with my camels unloaded from Bussorah, whither I had carried some bales that were to be embarked for the Indies, I met with good pasturage, at some distance from any habitation; made a halt, and let my beasts graze for some time. While I was seated, a dervish, who was walking to Bussorah, came and sat down by me to rest himself: I asked him whence he came, and where he was going; he put the same questions to me: and when we had satisfied each other's curiosity, we produced our provisions and ate together.
During our repast, after we had talked on many indifferent subjects, the dervish told me that he knew of a spot a small distance from thence, where there were such immense riches, that if all my fourscore camels were loaded with the gold and jewels that might be taken from it, they would not be missed.
This intelligence surprised and charmed me; and I was so overjoyed, that I could scarcely contain myself. I could not believe that the dervish was capable of telling me a falsehood; therefore I fell upon his neck, and said, "Good dervish, I know you value not the riches of this world, therefore of what service can the knowledge of this treasure be to you? You are alone, and cannot carry much of it away; shew me where it is, I will load all my camels, and as an acknowledgment of the favour done me, will present you with one of them."
Indeed I offered very little, but after he had communicated the secret to me, my desire of riches was become so violent, that I thought it a great deal, and looked upon the seventy-nine camel loads which I reserved for myself as nothing in comparison of what I allowed him.
The dervish, though he saw my avarice, was not however angry at the unreasonable return I proposed to make him, but replied without the least concern, "You are sensible, brother, that what you offer me is not proportionable to the valuable favour you ask of me. I might have chosen whether I would communicate my secret to you or not, and have kept the treasure to myself: but what I have told you is sufficient to shew my good intentions; it is in my power to oblige you, and make both our fortunes. I have, however, another proposition more just and equitable to make to you; it lies in your own breast whether or no you will agree to it.
"You say," continued the dervish, "that you have fourscore camels: I am ready to conduct you to the place where the treasure lies, and we will load them with as much jewels and gold as they can carry, on condition that when they are so loaded you will let me have one half, and you be contented with the other; after which we will separate, and take our camels where we may think fit. You see there is nothing but what is strictly equitable in this division; for if you give me forty camels, you will procure by my means wherewithal to purchase thousands."
I could not but agree there was a great deal of justice in what the dervish said: but without considering what riches I should gain in accepting of the condition he proposed, I could not without reluctance think of parting with my forty camels, especially when I reflected that the dervish would then be as rich as myself. Avarice made me unmindful that I was beforehand making an ungrateful return for a favour, purely gratuitous. But there was no time to hesitate; I must either accept of the proposal, or resolve to repent all my lifetime of losing, by my own fault, an opportunity of obtaining an immense fortune. That instant I collected all my camels, and after we had travelled some time, we came into a valley, the pass into which was so narrow, that two camels could not go a-breast. The two mountains which bounded this valley formed nearly a circle, but were so high, craggy, and steep, that there was no fear of our being seen by any body.
When we came between these two mountains, the dervish said to me, "Stop your camels, make them kneel that we may load them the easier, and I will proceed to discover the treasure."
I did as the dervish directed; and going to him soon after, found him with a match in one hand, gathering sticks to light a fire; which he had no sooner done, than he cast some incense into it, and pronouncing certain words which I did not understand, there presently arose a thick cloud. He divided this cloud, when the rock, though of a prodigious perpendicular height, opened like two folding doors, and exposed to view a magnificent palace in the hollow of the mountain, which I supposed to be rather the workmanship of genii than of men; for man could hardly have attempted such a bold and surprising work.
But this, I must tell your majesty, was an afterthought which did not occur to me at the moment; so eager was I for the treasures which displayed themselves to my view, that I did not even stop to admire the magnificent columns and arcades which I saw on all sides; and, without attention to the regularity with which the treasures were ranged, like an eagle seizing her prey, I fell upon the first heap of golden coin that was near me. My sacks were all large, and with my good will I would have filled them all; but I was obliged to proportion my burden to the strength of my camels. The dervish did the same; but I perceived he paid more attention to the jewels, and when he told me the reason, I followed his example, so that we took away much more jewels than gold. When we had filled our sacks, and loaded our camels, we had nothing left to do but to shut up the treasure and go our way.
But before we parted, the dervish went again into the treasury, where there were a great many wrought vessels of gold of different forms. I observed that he took out of one of these vessels a little box of a certain wood, which I knew not, and put it into his breast; but first shewed me that it contained only a kind of glutinous ointment.
The dervish used the same incantations to shut the treasury as he had done to open it; and after he pronounced certain words, the doors closed, and the rock seemed as solid and entire as before.
We now divided our camels. I put myself at the head of the forty which I had reserved for myself, and the dervish placed himself at the head of the rest which I had given him. We came out of the valley by the way we had entered, and travelled together till we came to the great road, where we were to part; the dervish to go to Bussorah, and I to Bagdad. To thank him for so great a kindness, I made use of the most expressive terms, testifying my gratitude for the preference he had given me before all other men in letting me have a share of such riches. We embraced each other with great joy, and taking our leave, pursued our different routes.
I had not gone far, following my camels, which paced quietly on in the track I had put them into, before the demon of ingratitude and envy took possession of my heart, and I deplored the loss of my other forty, but much more the riches wherewith they were loaded. "The dervish," said I to myself, "has no occasion for all this wealth, since he is master of the treasure, and may have as much as he pleases;" so I gave myself up to the blackest ingratitude, and determined immediately to take the camels with their loading from him.
To execute this design, I first stopped my own camels, then ran after the dervish, and called to him as loud as I could, giving him to understand that I had something material to say to him, and made a sign to him to stop, which he accordingly did.
When I came up to him, I said, "Brother, I had no sooner parted from you, but a thought came into my head, which neither of us had reflected on before. You are a recluse dervish, used to live in tranquillity, disengaged from all the cares of the world, and intent only upon serving God. You know not, perhaps, what trouble you have taken upon yourself, to take care of so many camels. If you would take my advice, you would keep but thirty; you will find them sufficiently troublesome to manage. Take my word; I have had experience."
"I believe you are right," replied the dervish, who found he was not able to contend with me;" I own I never thought of this. I begin already to be uneasy at what you have stated. Choose which ten you please, and take them, and go on in God's keeping."
I set ten apart, and after I had driven them off, I put them in the road to follow my others. I could not have imagined that the dervish would be so easily persuaded to part with his camels, which increased my covetousness, and made me flatter myself, that it would be no hard matter to get ten more: wherefore, instead of thanking him for his present, I said to him again; "Brother, the interest I take in your repose is so great, that I cannot resolve to part from you without desiring you to consider once more how difficult a thing it is to govern thirty loaded camels, especially for you who are not used to such work: you will find it much better to return me as many more back as you have done already. What I tell you is not for my own sake and interest, but to do you the greater kindness. Ease yourself then of the camels, and leave them to me, who can manage a hundred as well as one."
My discourse had the desired effect upon the dervish, who gave me, without any hesitation, the other ten camels; so that he had but twenty left and I was master of sixty, and might boast of greater riches than any sovereign princes. Any one would have thought I should now have been content; but as a person afflicted with a dropsy, the more he drinks the more thirsty he is, so I became more greedy and desirous of the other twenty camels.
I redoubled my solicitations and importunities, to make the dervish condescend to grant me ten of the twenty, which he did with a good grace: and as to the other ten he had left, I embraced him, kissed his feet, and caressed him, conjuring him not to refuse me, but to complete the obligation I should ever have to him, so that at length he crowned my joy, by giving me them also. "Make a good use of them, brother," said the dervish, "and remember that God can take away riches as well as give them, if we do not assist the poor, whom he suffers to be in want, on purpose that the rich may merit by their charity a recompense in the other world."
My infatuation was so great that I could not profit by such wholesome advice. I was not content, though I had my forty camels again, and knew they were loaded with an inestimable treasure. But a thought came into my head, that the little box of ointment which the dervish shewed me had something in it more precious than all the riches which I was obliged to him for: the place from whence the dervish took it, said I to myself, and his care to secure it, makes me believe there is something mysterious in it. This determined me to obtain it. I had just embraced him and bade him adieu; but as I turned about from him, I said, "What will you do with that little box of ointment? It seems such a trifle, it is not worth your carrying away. I entreat you to make me a present of it; for what occasion has a dervish, as you are, who has renounced the vanities of the world, for perfumes, or scented ointments?"
Would to heaven he had refused me that box; but if he had, I was stronger than he, and resolved to have taken it from him by force; that for my complete satisfaction it might not be said he had carried away the smallest part of the treasure.
The dervish, far from denying me, readily pulled it out of his bosom, and presenting it to me with the best grace in the world, said, "Here, take it, brother, and be content; if I could do more for you, you needed but to have asked me; I should have been ready to satisfy you."
When I had the box in my hand, I opened it, and looking at the ointment, said to him, "Since you are so good, I am sure you will not refuse me the favour to tell me the particular use of this ointment."
"The use is very surprising and wonderful," replied the dervish: "if you apply a little of it round the left eye, and upon the lid, you will see at once all the treasures contained in the bosom of the earth; but if you apply it to the right eye, it will make you blind."
"I would make the experiment myself. Take the box," said I to the dervish, "and apply some to my left eye. You understand how to do it better than I, and I long to experience what seems so incredible." Accordingly I shut my left eye, and the dervish took the trouble to apply the unguent; I opened my eye, and was convinced he had told me truth. I saw immense treasures, and such prodigious riches, so diversified, that it is impossible for me to give an account of them; but as I was obliged to keep my right eye shut with my hand, and that tired me, I desired the dervish to apply some of the pomatum to that eye.
"I am ready to do it," said the dervish; "but you must remember what I told you, that if you put any of it upon your right eye, you would immediately be blind; such is the virtue of the ointment."
Far from being persuaded of the truth of what the dervish said, I imagined, on the contrary, that there was some new mystery, which he meant to hide from me. "Brother," replied I, smiling, "I see plainly you wish to mislead me; it is not natural that this ointment should have two such contrary effects."
"The matter is as I tell you," replied the dervish, taking the name of God to bear witness; "you ought to believe me, for I cannot disguise the truth."
I would not believe the dervish, who spoke like an honest man. My insurmountable desire of seeing at my will all the treasures in the world and perhaps of enjoying those treasures to the extent I coveted, had such an effect upon me, that I could not hearken to his remonstrances, nor be persuaded of what was however but too true, as to my lasting misfortune I soon experienced.
I persuaded myself that if the ointment, by being applied to the left eye, had the virtue of shewing me all the treasures of the earth, by being applied to the right, it might have the power of putting them in my disposal. Possessed with this thought, I obstinately pressed the dervish to apply the ointment to my right eye; but he as positively refused. "Brother," said he, "after l have done you so much service, I cannot resolve to do you so great an injury; consider with yourself what a misfortune it is to be deprived of one's eye-sight: do not reduce me to the hard necessity of obliging you in a thing which you will repent of all your life."
I persisted in my obstinacy, and said to him in strong terms, "Brother, I earnestly desire you to lay aside all your difficulties. You have granted me most generously all that I have asked of you hitherto, and would you have me go away dissatisfied with you at last about a thing of so little consequence? For God's sake grant me this last favour; whatever happens I will not lay the blame on you, but take it upon myself alone."
The dervish made all the resistance possible, but seeing that I was able to force him to do it, he said, "Since you will absolutely have it so, I will satisfy you;" and thereupon he took a little of the fatal ointment, and applied it to my right eye, which I kept shut; but alas! when I came to open it, I could distinguish nothing with either eye but thick darkness, and became blind as you see me now.
"Ah! dervish," I exclaimed in agony, "what you forewarned me of has proved but too true. Fatal curiosity," added I, "insatiable desire of riches, into what an abyss of miseries have they cast me! I am now sensible what a misfortune I have brought upon myself; but you, dear brother," cried I, addressing myself to the dervish, "who are so charitable and good, among the many wonderful secrets you are acquainted with, have you not one to restore to me my sight again?"
"Miserable wretch!" answered the dervish, "if you would have been advised by me, you would have avoided this misfortune, but you have your deserts; the blindness of your mind was the cause of the loss of your eyes. It is true I have secrets, some of which, during the short time we have been together, you have by my liberality witnessed; but I have none to restore to you your sight. Pray to God, therefore, if you believe there is one; it is he alone that can restore it to you. He gave you riches, of which you were unworthy, on that account takes them from you again, and will by my hands give them to men not so ungrateful as yourself."
The dervish said no more, and I had nothing to reply. He left me to myself overwhelmed with confusion, and plunged in inexpressible grief. After he had collected my camels, he drove them away, and pursued the road to Bussorah.
I cried out loudly as he was departing, and entreated him not to leave me in that miserable condition, but to conduct me at least to the first caravanserai; but he was deaf to my prayers and entreaties. Thus deprived of sight and all I had in the world, I should have died with affliction and hunger, if the next day a caravan returning from Bussorah had not received me charitably, and brought me back to Bagdad.
After this manner was I reduced without remedy from a condition worthy the envy of princes for riches and magnificence, though not for power, to beggary without resource. I had no other way to subsist but by asking charity, which I have done till now. But to expiate my offence against God, I enjoined myself, by way of penance, a box on the ear from every charitable person who should commiserate my condition.
"This, commander of the faithful, is the motive which seemed so strange to your majesty yesterday, and for which I ought to incur your indignation. I ask your pardon once more as your slave, and submit to receive the chastisement I deserve. And if you vouchsafe to pronounce any thing beyond the penance I have imposed upon myself, I am ready to undergo it, since I am persuaded you must think it too slight and much too little for my crime."
The blind man having concluded his story, the caliph said, "Baba Abdoollah, your sin has been great; but God be praised, you feel the enormity of your guilt, and your penance proves your repentance. You must continue it, not ceasing to ask of God pardon in every prayer your religion obliges you to say daily: but that you may not be prevented from your devotions by the care of getting your living, I will settle a charity on you during your life, of four silver dirhems a day, which my grand vizier shall give you daily with the penance, therefore do not go away, but wait till he has executed my orders."
At these words, Baba Abdoollah prostrated himself before the caliph's throne, returned him thanks, and wished him all happiness and prosperity.
The caliph, very well satisfied with the story of Baba Abdoollah and the dervish, addressed himself to the young man who used his mare so ill, and asked him his name; to which he replied, it was Syed Naomaun.
"Syed Naomaun," resumed the caliph, "I have seen horses exercised all my life, and have often exercised them myself, but never in so barbarous a manner as you yesterday treated your mare in the full square, to the great offence of all the spectators, who murmured loudly at your conduct. I myself was not less displeased, and had nearly, contrary to my intention, discovered who I was, to have punished your cruelty. By your air and behaviour you do not seem to be a barbarous or cruel man; and therefore I would fain believe that you had reason for what you did, since I am informed that this was not the first time, but that you practise the same treatment every day. I would know what is the cause, and sent for you for that purpose, that you should tell me the truth, and disguise nothing from me."
Syed Naomaun understood what the caliph demanded of him. The relation was painful to him. He changed colour several times, and could not help shewing how greatly he was embarrassed. However, he must resolve to tell his story; but before he spoke, he prostrated himself before the caliph's throne, and after he rose up, endeavoured to speak to satisfy the caliph, but was so confounded, not so much at the presence of the caliph, as by the nature of his relation, that he was speechless.
The caliph, notwithstanding his natural impatience to be obeyed, shewed not the least anger at Syed Naomaun's silence: he saw plainly, that he either had not assurance to speak before him, or was intimidated by the tone of his voice; or, in short, that there was something to be concealed in his story.
"Syed Naomaun," said the caliph, to encourage him, "recollect yourself, but tell your story as if you were speaking not to me, but to your most familiar friend. If there is any thing in your relation which troubles you, and you think I may be offended at it, I pardon you beforehand: therefore be not uneasy, but speak boldly and freely, and disguise nothing."
Syed Naomaun, encouraged by these words, said, "Commander of the faithful, whatever apprehensions a man may be under at your majesty's presence, I am sensible those respectful sensations would not deprive me of the use of my speech, so as to fail in my obedience, in giving you satisfaction in any other matter but this you now ask of me. I dare not say I am the most perfect of men; yet I am not wicked enough to have committed, or to have had an intention of committing any thing against the laws to fear their severity; and yet I cannot say I am exempt from sin through ignorance. In this case I do not say that I depend upon your majesty's pardon, but will submit myself to your justice, and receive the punishment I deserve. I own, that the manner in which I have for some time treated my mare, and which your majesty has witnessed, is strange, and sets an ill example: but I hope you will think the motive well grounded, and that I am more worthy of compassion than chastisement: but not to keep your majesty any longer in suspense by a long preamble, I will tell you my story."
The Story of Syed Naomaun.
I shall not trouble your majesty with my birth, which is not illustrious enough to merit your attention. For my situation, my parents, by their good economy, left me enough to live on like an honest man, free from ambition, or being burdensome to any one.
With these advantages, the only blessing I wanted to render my happiness complete was an amiable wife, who might share them with me; but that was a blessing it did not please God to grant me: on the contrary, it was my misfortune to have one, who, the very next day after our wedding, began to exercise my patience in a manner not to be conceived by any one who has not had the same trial.
As it is the custom for us to marry without seeing or knowing whom we are to espouse, your majesty is sensible that a husband has no reason to complain, when he finds that the wife who has been chosen for him is not horribly ugly and deformed, and that her carriage, wit, and behaviour make amends for any slight bodily imperfections.
The first time I saw my wife with her face uncovered, after she was brought home with the usual ceremonies to my house, I rejoiced to find that I had not been imposed upon in the description of her person, which pleased me, and she was perfectly agreeable to my inclination.
The next day after our wedding, when our dinner was served up, which consisted of several dishes, I went into the room where the cloth was ]aid, and not finding my wife there, ordered her to be called. After making me wait a long time, she came. I dissembled my impatience, we sat down, and I began with the rice, which I took up as usual.
On the other hand, my wife, instead of using her hand as everybody does, pulled a little case out of her pocket, and took out of it a kind of bodkin, with which she picked up the rice, and put it into her mouth, grain by grain.
Surprised at this manner of eating, I said to her, "Ameeneh," (which was her name,) "are you used to eat rice so in your family, or do you do it because you are a little eater, or would you count the grains, that you may not eat more at one time than another? If you do it out of frugality, or to teach me not to be extravagant, you have no reason to fear, as I can assure you we shall not ruin ourselves that way. We have, God be thanked! enough to live at our ease, without depriving ourselves of necessaries. Do not restrain yourself, my dear Ameeneh, but eat as you see me eat." The kind manner in which I made these remonstrances might have produced some obliging answer; but she, without saying a word, continued to eat as she had begun. At last, to make me the more uneasy, she ate a grain of rice at intervals only; and instead of eating any of the other meats with me, she only now and then put some crumbs of bread into her mouth, but not so much as a sparrow would have pecked.
I was much provoked at her obstinacy; but yet, to indulge and excuse her, I imagined that she had not been used to eat with men, before whom she might perhaps have been taught to restrain herself; but at the same time thought she carried it too far out of pure simplicity. I fancied again that she might have breakfasted late, or that she might have a wish to eat alone, and more at liberty. These considerations prevented me from saying more to her then, to ruffle her temper, by shewing any sign of dissatisfaction. After dinner I left her, but not with an air that shewed any displeasure.
At supper, and the next day, and every time we ate together, she behaved herself in the same manner. I knew it was impossible for a woman to live on so little food as she took, and that there must be some mystery in her conduct, which I did not understand. This made me resolve to dissemble; I appeared to take no notice of her actions, in hopes that time would bring her to live with me as I desired she should. But my hopes were in vain, and it was not long before I was convinced they were so.
One night, when Ameeneh thought me fast asleep, she got out of bed softly, dressed herself with great precaution, not to make a noise for fear of awaking me. I could not comprehend her design, but curiosity made me feign a sound sleep. As soon as she had dressed herself, she went softly out of the room.
When she was gone, I arose, threw my cloak over my shoulders, and had time enough to see from a window that looked into my court-yard, that she opened the street-door and went out.
I immediately ran down to the door, which she had left half open, and followed her by moonlight, till I saw her enter a burying-ground just by our house. I got to the end of the wall, taking care not to be seen, and looking over, saw Ameeneh with a ghoul.
Your majesty knows that the ghouls of both sexes are wandering demons, which generally infest old buildings; from whence they rush out, by surprise, on people that pass by, kill them, and eat their flesh; and for want of such prey, will sometimes go in the night into burying-grounds, and feed on dead bodies which they dig up.
I was struck with astonishment and horror to see my wife with this ghoul. They dug up a dead body which had been buried but that day, and the ghoul cut off pieces of the flesh, which they ate together by the grave-side, conversing during their shocking and inhuman repast. But I was too far off to hear their discourse, which must have been as strange as their meal, the remembrance of which still makes me shudder.
When they had finished this horrible feast, they threw the remains of the dead body into the grave again, and filled it up with the earth which they had dug out. I left them at their work, made haste home, and leaving the door half open as I had found it, went into my chamber, and to bed again, where I pretended to be fast asleep.
Soon afterwards Ameeneh returned without the least noise, undressed herself, and came to bed, rejoicing, as I imagined, that she had succeeded so well without being discovered.
My mind was so full of the idea of such an abominable action as I had witnessed, that I felt great reluctance to lie by a person who could have had any share in the guilt of it, and was a long time before I could fall asleep. However, I got a short nap; but waked at the first call to public prayers at day-break, got up, dressed myself, and went to the mosque.
After prayers I went out of the town, spent the morning in walking in the gardens, and thinking what I should do to oblige my wife to change her mode of living. I rejected all the violent measures that suggested themselves to my thoughts, and resolved to use gentle means to cure her unhappy and depraved inclination. In this state of reverie I insensibly reached home by dinner- time.
As soon as Ameeneh saw me enter the house, she ordered dinner to be served up; and as I observed she continued to eat her rice in the same manner, by single grains, I said to her, with all the mildness possible, "You know, Ameeneh, what reason I had to be surprised, when the day after our marriage I saw you eat rice in so small a quantity, and in a manner which would have offended any other husband but myself: you know also, I contented myself with telling you that I was uneasy at it, and desired you to eat of the other meats, which I had ordered to be dressed several ways to endeavour to suit your taste, and I am sure my table did not want for variety: but all my remonstrances have had no effect, and you persist in your sullen abstemiousness. I have said nothing, because I would not constrain you, and should be sorry that any thing I now say should make you uneasy; but tell me, Ameeneh, I conjure you, are not the meats served up at my table better than the flesh of a human corpse?"
I had no sooner pronounced these words than Ameeneh, who perceived that I had discovered her last night's horrid voraciousness with the ghoul, flew into a rage beyond imagination. Her face became as red as scarlet, her eyes ready to start out of her head, and she foamed with passion.
The terrible state in which she appeared alarmed me so much, that I stood motionless, and was not able to defend myself against the horrible wickedness she meditated against me, and which will surprise your majesty. In the violence of her passion, she dipped her hand into a basin of water, which stood by her, and muttering between her teeth some words, which I could not hear, she threw some water in my face, and exclaimed, in a furious tone, "Wretch, receive the punishment of thy prying curiosity, and become a dog!"
Ameeneh, whom I did not before know to be a sorceress, had no sooner pronounced these diabolical words, than I was immediately transformed into a dog. My amazement and surprise at so sudden and unexpected a metamorphosis prevented my thinking at first of providing for my safety. Availing herself of this suspense, she took up a great stick, with which she laid on me such heavy blows, that I wonder they did not kill me. I thought to have escaped her rage, by running into the yard; but she pursued me with the same fury, and notwithstanding all my activity I could not avoid her blows. At last, when she was tired of running after and beating me, and enraged that she had not killed me, as she desired, she thought of another method to effect her purpose: she half opened the street-door, that she might endeavour to squeeze me to death, as I ran out to preserve my life. Dog as I was, I instantly perceived her pernicious design; and as present danger inspires a presence of mind, to elude her vigilance I watched her face and motions so well, that I took my opportunity, and passed through quick enough to save myself and escape her malice, though she pinched the end of my tail.
The pain I felt made me cry out and howl as I ran along the streets, which collected all the dogs about me, and I got bit by several of them; but to avoid their pursuit, I ran into the shop of a man who sold boiled sheep's heads, tongues, and feet, where I saved myself.
The man at first took my part with much compassion, by driving away the dogs that followed me, and would have run into his house. My first care was to creep into a corner to hide myself; but I found not the sanctuary and protection I hoped for. My host was one of those extravagantly superstitious persons who think dogs unclean creatures, and if by chance one happens to touch them in the streets, cannot use soap and water enough to wash their garments clean. After the dogs who chased me were all dispersed and gone, he did all he could to drive me out of his house, but I was concealed out of his reach, and spent that night in his shop in spite of him; and indeed I had need of rest to recover from Ameeneh's ill-treatment.
Not to weary your majesty with trifling circumstances, I shall not particularize the melancholy reflections I made on my metamorphosis; but only tell you, that my host having gone out the next morning to lay in a stock of sheep's heads, tongues, and trotters, when he returned, he opened his shop, and while he was laying out his goods, I crept from my corner, and got among some other dogs of the neighbourhood, who had followed my host by the scent of his meat, and surrounded the shop, in expectation of having some offal thrown to them. I joined them, and put myself among them in a begging posture. My host observing me, and considering that I had eaten nothing while I lay in the shop, distinguished me from the rest, by throwing me larger pieces of meat, and oftener than the other dogs. After he had given me as much as he thought fit, I looked at him earnestly, and wagged my tail, to shew him I begged he would repeat his favours. But he was inflexible, and opposed my entrance with a stick in his hand, and with so stern a look, that I felt myself obliged to seek a new habitation.
I stopped at the shop of a baker in the neighbourhood, who was of a lively gay temper, quite the reverse of the offal butcher. He was then at breakfast, and though I made no sign that I wanted any thing, threw me a piece of bread. Instead of catching it up greedily, as dogs usually do, I looked at him, moving my head and wagging my tail, to shew my gratitude; at which he was pleased, and smiled. Though I was not hungry, I ate the piece of bread to please him, and I ate slowly to shew him that it was out of respect to him. He observed this, and permitted me to continue near the shop. I sat down and turned myself to the street, to shew him I then only wanted his protection; which he not only granted, but by his caresses encouraged me to come into the house. This I did in a way that shewed it was with his leave. He was pleased, and pointed me out a place where to lie, of which I took possession, and kept while I lived with him. I was always well treated; and whenever he breakfasted, dined, or supped, I had my share of provisions; and, in return, I loved him, and was faithful, as gratitude required of me. I always had my eyes upon him, and he scarcely stirred out of doors, or went into the city on business, but I was at his heels. I was the more exact, because I perceived my attention pleased him; for whenever he went out, without giving me time to see him, he would call Chance, which was the name he gave me.
At this name I used to spring from my place, jump, caper, run before the door, and never cease fawning on him, till he went out; and then I always either followed him, or ran before him, continually looking at him to shew my joy.
I had lived some time with this baker, when a woman came one day into the shop to buy some bread, who gave my master a piece of bad money among some good, which he returned, and requested her to exchange.
The woman refused to take it again, and affirmed it to be good. The baker maintained the contrary, and in the dispute told the woman, he was sure that the piece of money was so visibly bad, that his dog could distinguish it; upon which he called me by name. I immediately jumped on the counter, and the baker throwing the money down before me, said, "See, and tell me which of these pieces is bad?" I looked over all the pieces of money, and then set my paw upon that which was bad, separated it from the rest, looking in my master's face, to shew it him.
The baker, who had only called me to banter the woman, was much surprised to see me so immediately pitch upon the bad money. The woman thus convicted had nothing to say for herself, but was obliged to give another piece instead of the bad one. As soon as she was gone, my master called in some neighbours, and enlarged very much on my capacity, telling them what had happened.
The neighbours desired to make the experiment, and of all the bad money they shewed me, mixed with good, there was not one which I did not set my paw upon, and separate from the rest.
The woman also failed not to tell everybody she met what had happened; so that the fame of my skill in distinguishing good money from bad was not only spread throughout the neighbourhood, but over all that part of the town, and insensibly through the whole city.
I had business enough every day; for I was obliged to shew my skill to all customers who came to buy bread of my master. In short, my reputation procured my master more business than he could manage, and brought him customers from the most distant parts of the town; this run of business lasted so long, that he owned to his friends and neighbours, that I was a treasure to him.
My little knowledge made many people envy my master's good fortune, and lay snares to steal me away, which obliged him always to keep me in his sight. One day a woman came like the rest out of curiosity to buy some bread, and seeing me sit upon the counter, threw down before me six pieces of money, among which was one that was bad. I separated it presently from the others, and setting my paw upon it, looked in the woman's face, as much as to say, "Is it not so?" The woman looking at me replied, "Yes, you are in the right, it is bad:" and staying some time in the shop, to look at and admire me, at last paid my master for his bread, but when she went out of the shop, made a sign, unknown to him, for me to follow her.
I was always attentive to any means likely to deliver me out of so strange a metamorphosis, and had observed that the woman examined me with an extraordinary attention. I imagined that she might know something of my misfortune, and the melancholy condition I was reduced to: however, I let her go, and contented myself with looking at her. After walking two or three steps, she turned about, and seeing that I only looked at her, without stirring from my place, made me another sign to follow her.
Without deliberating any longer, and observing that my master was busy cleaning his oven, and did not mind me, I jumped off the counter, and followed the woman, who seemed overjoyed.
After we had gone some way, she stopped at a house, opened the door, and called to me to come in, saying, "You will not repent following me." When I had entered, she shut the door, and conduded me to her chamber, where I saw a beautiful young lady working embroidery. This lady, who was daughter to the charitable woman who had brought me from the baker's, was a very skilful enchantress, as I found afterwards.
"Daughter," said the mother, "I have brought you the much-talked-of baker's dog, that can tell good money from bad. You know I gave you my opinion respecting him when I first heard of him, and told you, I fancied he was a man changed into a dog by some wicked magician. To-day I determined to go to that baker for some bread, and was myself a witness of the wonders performed by this dog, who has made such a noise in Bagdad. What say you, daughter, am I deceived in my conjecture?" "Mother, you are not," answered the daughter, "and I will disenchant him immediately."
The young lady arose from her sofa, put her hand into a basin of water, and throwing some upon me, said, "If thou wert born a dog, remain so, but if thou wert born a man, resume thy former shape, by the virtue of this water." At that instant the enchantment was broken, and I became restored to my natural form.
Penetrated with the greatness of this kindness, I threw myself at my deliverer's feet; and after I had kissed the hem of her garment, said, "My dear deliverer, I am so sensible of your unparalleled humanity towards a stranger, as I am, that I beg of you to tell me yourself what I can do to shew my gratitude; or rather dispose of me as a slave, to whom you have a just right, since I am no more my own, but entirely yours: and that you may know who I am, I will tell you my story in as few words as possible."
After I had informed her who I was, I gave her an account of my marriage with Ameeneh, of the complaisance I had shewn her, my patience in bearing with her humour, her extraordinary behaviour, and the savage inhumanity with which she had treated me out of her inconceivable wickedness, and finished my story with my transformation, and thanking her mother for the inexpressible happiness she had procured me.
"Syed Naomaun," said the daughter to me, "let us not talk of the obligation you say you owe me; it is enough for me that I have done any service to so honest a man. But let us talk of Ameeneh your wife. I was acquainted with her before your marriage; and as I know her to be a sorceress, she also is sensible that I have some of the same kind of knowledge as herself, since we both learnt it of the same mistress. We often meet at the baths, but as our tempers are different, I avoid all opportunities of contracting an intimacy with her, which is no difficult matter, as she does the same by me. I am not at all surprised at her wickedness: but what I have already done for you is not sufficient; I must complete what I have begun. It is not enough to have broken the enchantment by which she has so long excluded you from the society of men. You must punish her as she deserves, by going home again, and assuming the authority which belongs to you. I will give you the proper means. Converse a little with my mother till I return to you."
My deliveress went into a closet, and while she was absent, I repeated my obligations to the mother as well as the daughter. She said to me, "You see my daughter has as much skill in the magic art as the wicked Ameeneh; but makes such use of it, that you would be surprised to know the good she has done, and daily does, by exercising her science. This induces me to let her practise it; for I should not permit her, if I perceived she made an improper application of it in the smallest instance."
The mother then related some of the wonders she had seen her perform: by this time the daughter returned with a little bottle in her hand. "Syed Naomaun," said she, "my books which I have been consulting tell me that Ameeneh is now abroad, but will be at home presently. They also inform me that she pretended before your servants to be very uneasy at your absence, and made them believe, that at dinner you recollected some business which obliged you to go out immediately; that as you went, you left the door open, and a dog running into the hall where she was at dinner, she had beaten him out with a great stick.
"Take this little bottle, go home immediately, and wait in your own chamber till Ameeneh comes in, which she will do shortly. As soon as she returns, run down into the court, and meet her face to face. In her surprise at seeing you so unexpectedly, she will turn her back to run away; have the bottle ready, and throw some of the liquor it contains upon her, pronouncing at the same time these words: 'Receive the chastisement of thy wickedness.' I will tell you no more; you will see the effect."
After these instructions I took leave of my benefactress, and her mother, with all the testimonies of the most perfect gratitude, and a sincere protestation never to forget my obligation to them; and then went home.
All things happened as the beautiful and humane enchantress had foretold. Ameeneh was not long before she came home. As she entered the court, I met her with the bottle in my hand. Upon seeing me, she shrieked; and as she turned to run towards the door, I threw the liquor upon her, pronouncing the words which the young lady had taught me, when she was instantly transformed into the mare which your majesty saw me upon yesterday.
At that instant, owing to the surprise she was in, I easily seized her by the mane, and notwithstanding her resistance, led her into the stable, where I put a halter upon her head, and when I had tied her to the rack, reproaching her with her baseness, I chastised her with a whip till I was tired, and have punished her every day since in the manner which your majesty has witnessed.
"I hope, commander of the faithful," concluded Syed Naomaun, "your majesty will not disapprove of my conduct, but will rather think I have shewn so wicked and pernicious a woman more indulgence than she deserved."
When the caliph found that Syed Naomaun had ended his story, he said to him, "Your adventure is very singular, and the wickedness of your wife inexcusable; therefore I do not condemn the chastisement you have hitherto given her; but I would have you consider how great a punishment it is to be reduced to the condition of beasts, and wish you would be content with the chastisement you have already inflicted. I would order you to go and address yourself to the young enchantress, to end the metamorphosis she has inflicted, but that I know the obstinacy and incorrigible cruelty of magicians of both sexes, who abuse their art; which makes me apprehensive that a second effect of your wife's revenge might be more fatal than the first."
The caliph, who was naturally mild and compassionate to all criminals, after he had declared his mind to Syed Naomaun, addressed himself to the third person the grand vizier had summoned to attend him. "Khaujeh Hassan," said he, "passing yesterday by your house, it seemed so magnificent that I felt a curiosity to know to whom it belonged, and was told that you, whose trade is so mean that a man can scarcely get his bread by it, have built this house after you had followed this trade some years. I was likewise informed that you make a good use of the riches God has blessed you with, and your neighbours speak well of you.
"All this pleases me well," added the caliph, "but I am persuaded that the means by which Providence has been pleased to bestow these gifts on you must have been very extraordinary. I am curious to know the particulars from your own mouth, and sent for you on purpose to have that satisfaction. Speak truly, that when I know your story, I may rejoice in your good fortune.
"But that you may not suspect my curiosity, and believe I have any other interest than what I tell you, I declare, that far from having any pretensions, I give you my word you shall enjoy freely all you possess."
On these assurances of the caliph, Khaujeh Hassan prostrated himself before the throne, with his forehead down to the carpet, and when he rose up, said, "Commander of the faithful, some persons might have been alarmed at having been summoned to appear before your majesty; but knowing that my conscience was clear, and that I had committed nothing against the laws or your majesty, but, on the contrary, had always the most respectful sentiments and the profoundest veneration for your person, my only fear was, that I should not be able to support the splendour of your presence. But nevertheless on the public report of your majesty's receiving favourably, and hearing the meanest of your subjects, I took courage, and never doubted but I should have confidence enough to give you all the satisfaction you might require of me. Besides, your majesty has given me a proof of your goodness, by granting me your protection before you know whether I deserve it. I hope, however, you will retain the favourable sentiments you have conceived of me, when, in obedience to your command, I shall have related my adventures."
After this compliment to conciliate the caliph's good-will and attention, and after some moments' recollection, Khaujeh Hassan related his story in the following manner:
The Story of Khaujeh Hassan al Hubbaul.
Commander of the faithful, that your majesty may the better understand by what means I arrived at the happiness I now enjoy, I must acquaint you, there are two intimate friends, citizens of Bagdad, who can testify the truth of what I shall relate, and to whom, after God, the author of all good, I owe my prosperity.
These two friends are called, the one Saadi, the other Saad. Saadi, who is very rich, was always of opinion that no man could be happy in this world without wealth, to live independent of every one.
Saad was of a different opinion; he agreed that riches were necessary to comfort, but maintained that the happiness of a man's life consisted in virtue, without any farther eagerness after worldly goods than what was requisite for decent subsistence, and benevolent purposes.
Saad himself is one of this number, and lives very happily and contentedly in his station: but though Saadi is infinitely more opulent, their friendship is very sincere, and the richest sets no more value on himself than the other. They never had any dispute but on this point; in all other things their union of opinion has been very strict.
One day as they were talking upon this subject, as I have since been informed by them both, Saadi affirmed, that poverty proceeded from men's being born poor, or spending their fortunes in luxury and debauchery, or by some of those unforeseen fatalities which do not often occur. "My opinion," said he, "is, that most people's poverty is owing to their wanting at first a sufficient sum of money to raise them above want, by employing their industry to improve it; for," continued he, "if they once had such a sum, and made a right use of it, they would not only live well, but would in time infallibly grow rich."
Saad could not agree in this sentiment: "The way," said he, "which you propose to make a poor man rich, is not so certain as you imagine. Your plan is very hazardous, and I can bring many good arguments against your opinion, but that they would carry us too far into dispute, I believe, with as much probability, that a poor man may become rich by other means as well as by money: and there are people who have raised as large and surprising fortunes by mere chance, as others have done by money, with all their good economy and management to increase it by the best conducted trade."
"Saad," replied Saadi, "I see we shall not come to any determination by my persisting to oppose my opinion against yours. I will make an experiment to convince you, by giving, for example, a sum of money to some artisan, whose ancestors from father to son have always been poor, lived only from day to day, and died as indigent as they were born. If I have not the success I expect, you shall try if you will have better by the means you shall employ."
Some days after this dispute, the two friends happened to walk out together, and passing through the street where I was at work at my trade of rope-making, which I learnt of my father, who learnt of his, and he of his ancestors; and by my dress and appearance, it was no hard matter for them to guess my poverty.
Saad, remembering Saadi's engagement, said, "If you have not forgotten what you said to me, there is a man," pointing to me, "whom I can remember a long time working at his trade of rope- making, and in the same poverty: he is a worthy subject for your liberality, and a proper person to make your experiment upon." "I so well remember the conversation," replied Saadi, "that I have ever since carried a sufficient sum about me for the purpose, but only waited for an opportunity of our being together, that you might be witness of the fact. Let us go to him, and know if he is really necessitous."
The two friends came to me, and I, seeing that they wished to speak to me, left off work: they both accosted me with the common salutation, and Saadi, wishing me peace, asked me my name.
I returned their salutation, and answered Saadi's question, saying to him, "Sir, my name is Hassan; but by reason of my trade, I am commonly known by the name of Hassan al Hubbaul."
"Hassan," replied Saadi, "as there is no occupation but what a man may live by, I doubt not but yours produces enough for you to live well upon; and I am amazed, that during the long time you have worked at your trade, you have not saved enough to lay in a good stock of hemp to extend your manufacture and employ more hands, by the profit of whose work you would soon increase your income."
"Sir," replied I, "you will be no longer amazed that I have not saved money and taken the way you mention to become rich, when you come to know that, let me work as hard as I may from morning till night, I can hardly get enough to keep my family in bread and pulse. I have a wife and five children, not one of whom is old enough to be of the least assistance to me. I must feed and clothe them, and in our poor way of living, they still want many necessaries, which they can ill do without And though hemp is not very dear, I must have money to buy it. This is the first thing I do with any money I receive for my work; otherwise I and my family must starve.
"Now judge, sir," added I, "if it be possible that I should save any thing for myself and family: it is enough that we are content with the little God sends us, and that we have not the knowledge or desire of more than we want, but can live as we have been always bred up, and are not reduced to beg."
When I had given Saadi this account, he said to me, "Hassan, I am not so much surprised as I was, for I comprehend what obliges you to be content in your station. But if I should make you a present of a purse of two hundred pieces of gold, would not you make a good use of it? and do not you believe, that with such a sum you could become soon as rich as the principal of your occupation?"
"Sir," replied I, "you seem to be so good a gentleman, that I am persuaded you would not banter me, but that the offer you make me is serious; and I dare say, without presuming too much upon myself, that a considerably less sum would be sufficient to make me not only as rich as the first of our trade, but that in time I should be richer than all of them in this city together, though Bagdad is so large and populous."
The generous Saadi showed me immediately that in what he said he was serious. He pulled a purse out of his bosom, and putting it into my hands, said, "Here, take this purse; you will find it contains two hundred pieces of gold: I pray God bless you with them, and give you grace to make the good use of them I desire; and believe me, my friend Saad, whom you see here, and I shall both take great pleasure in finding they may contribute towards making you more happy than you now are."
When I had got the purse, the first thing I did was to put it into my bosom; but the transport of my joy was so great, and I was so much penetrated with gratitude, that my speech failed me and I could give my benefactor no other tokens of my feelings than by laying hold of the hem of his garment and kissing it; but he drew it from me hastily, and he and his friend pursued their walk.
As soon as they were gone, I returned to my work, and my first thought was, what I should do with my purse to keep it safe. I had in my poor house neither box nor cupboard to lock it up in, nor any other place where I could be sure it would not be discovered if I concealed it.
In this perplexity, as I had been used, like many poor people of my condition, to put the little money I had in the folds of my turban, I left my work, and went into the house, under pretence of wrapping my turban up anew. I took such precautions that neither my wife nor children saw what I was doing. But first I laid aside ten pieces of gold for present necessaries, and wrapped the rest up in the folds of the linen which went about my cap.
The principal expense I was at that day was to lay in a good stock of hemp, and afterwards, as my family had eaten no flesh meat a long time, I went to the shambles, and bought something for supper.
As I was carrying home the meat I had bought, a famished vulture flew upon me, and would have taken it away, if I had not held it very fast; but, alas! I had better have parted with it than lost my money; the faster I held my meat, the more the bird struggled to get it, drawing me sometimes on one side, and sometimes on another, but would not quit the prize; till unfortunately in my efforts my turban fell on the ground.
The vulture immediately let go his hold, but seizing my turban, flew away with it. I cried out so loud, that I alarmed all the men, women, and children in the neighbourhood, who joined their shouts and cries to make the vulture quit his hold; for by such means these voracious birds are often frightened so as to quit their prey. But our cries did not avail; he carried off my turban, and we soon lost sight of him, and it would have been in vain for me to fatigue myself with running after him.
I went home very melancholy at the loss of my money. I was obliged to buy a new turban, which diminished the small remainder of the ten pieces; for I had laid out several in hemp. The little that was left was not sufficient to give me reason to indulge the great hopes I had conceived.
But what troubled me most, was the little satisfaction I should be able to give my benefactor for his ineffectual generosity, when he should come to hear what a misfortune I had met with, which he would perhaps regard as incredible, and consequently an idle excuse.
While the remainder of the ten pieces lasted, my little family and I lived better than usual; but I soon relapsed into the same poverty, and the same inability to extricate myself from wretchedness. However, I never murmured nor repined; "God," said I, "was pleased to give me riches when I least expelled them; he has thought fit to take them from me again almost at the same time, because it so pleased him, and they were at his disposal; yet I will praise his name for all the benefits I have received, as it was his good pleasure, and submit myself, as I have ever done hitherto, to his will."
These were my sentiments, while my wife, from whom I could not keep secret the loss I had sustained, was inconsolable. In my trouble I had told my neighbours, that when I lost my turban I lost a hundred and ninety pieces of gold; but as they knew my poverty, and could not comprehend how I should have got so great a sum by my work, they only laughed at me.
About six months after this misfortune, which I have related to your majesty, the two friends walking through that part of the town where I lived, the neighbourhood brought me to Saad's recollection. "We are now," said he to Saadi, "not far from the street where Hassan the ropemaker lives; let us call and see what use he has made of the two hundred pieces of gold you gave him, and whether they have enabled him to take any steps towards bettering his fortune."
"With all my heart," replied Saadi; "I have been thinking of him some days, and it will be a great pleasure and satisfaction to me to have you with me, as a witness of the proof of my argument. You will see undoubtedly a great alteration. I expect we shall hardly know him again."
Just as Saadi said this, the two friends turned the corner of the street, and Saad, who perceived me first at a distance, said to his friend, "I believe you reckon without your host. I see Hassan, but can discern no change in his person, for he is as shabbily dressed as when we saw him before; the only difference that I can perceive is, that his turban looks something better. Observe him yourself, and see whether I am in the wrong."
As they drew nearer to me, Saadi saw me too, and found Saad was in the right, but could not tell to what he should attribute the little alteration he saw in my person; and was so much amazed, that he could not speak when he came up to me. "Well, Hassan," said Saad, "we do not ask you how affairs go since we saw you last; without doubt they are in a better train."
"Gentlemen," replied I, addressing myself to them both, "I have the great mortification to tell you, that your desires, wishes, and hopes, as well as mine, have not had the success you had reason to expect, and I had promised myself; you will scarcely believe the extraordinary adventure that has befallen me. I assure you nevertheless, on the word of an honest man, and you ought to believe me, for nothing is more true than what I am going to tell you." I then related to them my adventure, with the same circumstances I had the honour to tell your majesty.
Saadi rejected my assertion, and said, "Hassan, you joke, and would deceive me; for what you say is a thing incredible. What have vultures to do with turbans? They only search for something to satisfy their hunger. You have done as all such people as yourself generally do. If they have made any extraordinary gain, or any good fortune happens to them, which they never expected, they throw aside their work, take their pleasure, make merry, while the money lasts; and when they have eaten and drunk it all out, are reduced to the same necessity and want as before. You would not be so miserable, but because you deserve it, and render yourself unworthy of any service done to you."
"Sir," I replied, "I bear all these reproaches, and am ready to bear as many more, if they were more severe, and all with the greater patience because I do not think I deserve them. The thing is so publicly known in this part of the town, that there is nobody but can satisfy you of the truth of my assertions. If you inquire, you will find that I do not impose upon you. I own, I never heard of vultures flying away with turbans; but this has actually happened to me, like many other things, which do not fall out every day, and yet have actually happened."
Saad took my part, and told Saadi a great many as surprising stories of vultures, some of which he affirmed he knew to be true, insomuch that at last he pulled his purse out of his vestband, and counted out two hundred pieces of gold into my hand, which I put into my bosom for want of a purse.
When Saadi had presented me with this sum, he said, "Hassan, I make you a present of these two hundred pieces; but take care to put them in a safer place, that you may not lose them so unfortunately as you have done the others, and employ them in such a manner that they may procure you the advantages which the others would have done." I told him that the obligation of this his second kindness was much greater than I deserved, after what had happened, and that I should be sure to make good use of his advice. I would have said a great deal more, but he did not give me time, for he went away, and continued his walk with his friend.
As soon as they were gone, I left off work, and went home, but finding neither my wife nor children within, I pulled out my money, put ten pieces by, and wrapped up the rest in a clean linen cloth, tying it fast with a knot; but then I was to consider where I should hide this linen cloth that it might be safe. After I had considered some time, I resolved to put it in the bottom of an earthen vessel full of bran, which stood in a corner, which I imagined neither my wife nor children would look into. My wife came home soon after, and as I had but little hemp in the house, I told her I should go out to buy some, without saying any thing to her about the two friends.
While I was absent, a sandman, who sells scouring earth for the hair and body, which women use in the baths, passed through our street, and called, "Cleansing, ho!" My wife, who wanted some, beckoned to him: but as she had no money, asked him if he would make an exchange of some earth for some bran. The sandman asked to see the bran. My wife shewed him the pot; the bargain was made; she had the cleansing earth, with which she filled a dust hole I had made to the house, and the sandman took the pot and bran along with him.
Not long after I came home with as much hemp as I could carry, and followed by five porters loaded also with hemp. After I had satisfied them for their trouble, I sat down to rest myself; and looking about me, could not see the pot of bran.
It is impossible for me to express to your majesty my surprise and the effect it had on me at the moment. I asked my wife hastily what was become of it; when she told me the bargain she had made with the sandman, which she thought to be a very good one.
"Ah! unfortunate woman!" cried I, "you know not the injury you have done me, yourself, and our children, by making that bargain, which has ruined us for ever. You thought you only sold the bran, but with the bran you have enriched the sandman with a hundred and ninety pieces of gold, which Saadi with his friend came and made me a second present of."
My wife was like one distracted, when she knew what a fault she had committed through ignorance. She cried, beat her breast, and tore her hair and clothes. "Unhappy wretch that I am," cried she, "am I fit to live after so dreadful a mistake! Where shall I find this sandman? I know him not, I never saw him in our street before. Oh! husband," added she, "you were much to blame to be so reserved in a matter of such importance This had never happened, if you had communicated the secret to me." In short, I should never finish my story were I to tell your majesty what her grief made her say. You are not ignorant how eloquent women often are in their afflictions.
"Wife," said I, "moderate your grief: by your weeping and howling you will alarm the neighbourhood, and there is no reason they should be informed of our misfortunes. They will only laugh at, instead of pitying us. We had best bear our loss patiently, and submit ourselves to the will of God, and bless him, for that out of two hundred pieces of gold which he had given us, he has taken back but a hundred and ninety, and left us ten, which, by the use I shall make of them will be a great relief to us."
My wife at first did not relish my arguments; but as time softens the greatest misfortunes, and makes them more supportable, she at last grew easy, and had almost forgotten them. "It is true," said I to her, "we live but poorly; but what have the rich which we have not? Do not we breathe the same air, enjoy the same light and the same warmth of the sun? Therefore what conveniences have they more than we, that we should envy their happiness? They die as well as we. In short, while we live in the fear of God, as we should always do, the advantage they have over us is so very inconsiderable, that we ought not to covet it."
I will not tire your majesty any longer with my moral reflections. My wife and I comforted ourselves, and I pursued my trade with as much alacrity as before these two mortifying losses, which followed one another so quickly. The only thing that troubled me sometimes was, how I should look Saadi in the face when he should come and ask me how I had improved his two hundred pieces of gold, and advanced my fortune by means of his liberality. I saw no remedy but to resolve to submit to the confusion I should feel, though it was by no fault of mine this time, any more than before, that our misfortune had happened.
The two friends stayed away longer this time than the former, though Saad had often spoken to Saadi, who always put it off; for, said he, "The longer we stay away, the richer Hassan will be, and I shall have the greater satisfaction."
Saad, who had not the same opinion of the effect of his friend's generosity, replied, "You fancy then that your last present will have been turned to a better account than the former. I would advise you not to flatter yourself too much, for fear you may be more sensibly mortified if it should prove otherwise." "Why," replied Saadi, "vultures do not fly away with turbans every day; and Hassan will have been more cautious this time."
"I do not doubt it," replied Saad; "but," added he, "there are other accidents that neither you nor I can think of; therefore, I say again, moderate your expectations, and do not depend too much on Hassan's success; for to tell you what I think, and what I always thought (whether you like to hear it or not), I have a secret presentiment that you will not have accomplished your purpose, and that I shall succeed better in proving that a poor man may sooner become rich by other means than money."WP="BR1">
One day, when Saad and Saadi were disputing upon this subject, Saad observed that enough had been said; "I am resolved," continued he, "to inform myself this very day what has passed; it is a pleasing time for walking, let us not lose it, but go and see which of us has lost the wager." I saw them at a distance, was overcome with confusion, and was just going to leave my work, to run and hide myself. However I refrained, appeared very earnest at work, made as if I had not seen them, and never lifted up my eyes till they were close to me and had saluted me, and then I could not help myself. I hung down my head, told them my last misfortune, with all the circumstances, and that I was as poor as when they first saw me.
"After that," I added, "you may say that I ought to have hidden my money in another place than in a pot of bran, which was carried out of my house the same day: but that pot had stood there many years, and had never been removed, whenever my wife parted with the bran. Could I guess that a sandman should come by that very day, my wife have no money, and would make such an exchange? You may indeed allege, that I ought to have told my wife of it; but I will never believe that such prudent persons, as I am persuaded you are, would have given me that advice; and if I had put my money anywhere else, what certainty could I have had that it would be more secure?"
"I see, sir," said I, addressing myself to Saadi, "that it has pleased God, whose ways are secret and impenetrable, that I should not be enriched by your liberality, but that I must remain poor: however, the obligation is the same as if it had wrought the desired effect."
After these words I was silent; and Saadi replied, "Though I would persuade myself, Hassan, that all you tell us is true, and not owing to your debauchery or ill management, yet I must not be extravagant, and ruin myself for the sake of an experiment. I do not regret in the least the four hundred pieces of gold I gave you to raise you in the world. I did it in duty to God, without expecting any recompense but the pleasure of doing good. If any thing makes me repent, it is, that I did not address myself to another, who might have made a better use of my charity." Then turning about to his friend, "Saad," continued he, "you may know by what I have said that I do not entirely give up the cause. You may now make your experiment, and let me see that there are ways, besides giving money, to make a poor man's fortune. Let Hassan be the man. I dare say, whatever you may give him he will not be richer than he was with four hundred pieces of gold." Saad had a piece of lead in his hand, which he shewed Saadi. "You saw me," said he, "take up this piece of lead, which I found on the ground; I will give it Hassan, and you shall see what it is worth."
Saadi, burst out laughing at Saad. "What is that bit of lead worth," said he, "a farthing? What can Hassan do with that?" Saad presented it to me, and said, "Take it, Hassan; let Saadi laugh, you will tell us some news of the good luck it has brought you one time or another." I thought Saad was in jest, and had a mind to divert himself: however I took the lead, and thanked him. The two friends pursued their walk, and I fell to work again.
At night when I pulled off my clothes to go to bed, the piece of lead, which I had never thought of from the time he gave it me, tumbled out of my pocket. I took it up, and laid it on the place that was nearest me. The same night it happened that a fisherman, a neighbour, mending his nets, found a piece of lead wanting; and it being too late to buy any, as the shops were shut, and he must either fish that night, or his family go without bread the next day, he called to his wife and bade her inquire among the neighbours for a piece. She went from door to door on both sides of the street, but could not get any, and returned to tell her husband her ill success. He asked her if she had been to several of their neighbours, naming them, and among the rest my house. "No indeed," said the wife, "I have not been there; that was too far off, and if I had gone, do you think I should have found any? I know by experience they never have any thing when one wants it." "No matter," said the fisherman, "you are an idle hussy; you must go there; for though you have been there a hundred times before without getting any thing, you may chance to obtain what we want now. You must go."
The fisherman's wife went out grumbling, came and knocked at my door, and waked me out of a sound sleep. I asked her what she wanted. "Hassan," said she, as loud as she could bawl, "my husband wants a bit of lead to load his nets with; and if you have a piece, desires you to give it him."
The piece of lead which Saad had given me was so fresh in my memory, and had so lately dropped out of my clothes, that I could not forget it. I told my neighbour I had some; and if she would stay a moment my wife should give it to her. Accordingly, my wife, who was wakened by the noise as well as myself, got up, and groping about where I directed her, found the lead, opened the door, and gave it to the fisherman's wife, who was so overjoyed that she promised my wife, that in return for the kindness she did her and her husband, she would answer for him we should have the first cast of the nets.
The fisherman was so much rejoiced to see the lead, which he so little expected, that he much approved his wife's promise. He finished mending his nets, and went a-fishing two hours before day, according to custom. At the first throw he caught but one fish, about a yard long, and proportionable in thickness; but afterwards had a great many successful casts; though of all the fish he took none equalled the first in size.
When the fisherman had done fishing, he went home, where his first care was to think of me. I was extremely surprised, when at my work, to see him come to me with a large fish in his hand. "Neighbour," said he, "my wife promised you last night, in return for your kindness, whatever fish I should catch at my first throw; and I approved her promise. It pleased God to send me no more than this one for you, which, such as it is, I desire you to accept. I wish it had been better. Had he sent me my net full, they should all have been yours."
"Neighbour," said I, "the bit of lead which I sent you was such a trifle, that it ought not to be valued at so high a rate: neighbours should assist each other in their little wants. I have done no more for you than I should have expected from you had I been in your situation; therefore I would refuse your present, if I were not persuaded you gave it me freely, and that I should offend you; and since you will have it so, I take it, and return you my hearty thanks."
After these civilities, I took the fish, and carried it home to my wife. "Here," said I, "take this fish, which the fisherman our neighbour has made me a present of, in return for the bit of lead he sent to us for last night: I believe it is all we can expect from the present Saad made me yesterday, promising me that it would bring me good luck;" and then I told her what had passed between the two friends.
My wife was much startled to see so large a fish. "What would you have me do with it?" said she. "Our gridiron is only fit to broil small fish; and we have not a pot big enough to boil it." "That is your business," answered I; "dress it as you will, I shall like it either way." I then went to my work again.
In gutting the fish, my wife found a large diamond, which, when she washed it, she took for a piece of glass: indeed she had heard talk of diamonds, but if she had ever seen or handled any she would not have known how to distinguish them. She gave it to the youngest of our children for a plaything, and his brothers and sisters handed it about from one to another, to admire its brightness and beauty.
At night when the lamp was lighted, and the children were still playing with the diamond, they perceived that it gave a light, when my wife, who was getting them their supper, stood between them and the lamp; upon which they snatched it from one another to try it; and the younger children fell a-crying, that the elder would not let them have it long enough. But as a little matter amuses children, and makes them squabble and fall out, my wife and I took no notice of their noise, which presently ceased, when the bigger ones supped with us, and my wife had given the younger each their share.
After supper the children got together again, and began to make the same noise. I then called to the eldest to know what was the matter, who told me it was about a piece of glass, which gave a light when his back was to the lamp. I bade him bring it to me, made the experiment myself, and it appeared so extraordinary, that I asked my wife what it was. She told me it was a piece of glass, which she had found in gutting the fish.
I thought no more than herself but that it was a bit of glass, but I was resolved to make a farther experiment of it; and therefore bade my wife put the lamp in the chimney, which she did, and still found that the supposed piece of glass gave so great a light, that we might see to go to bed without the lamp. So I put it out, and placed the bit of glass upon the chimney to light us. "Look," said I, "this is another advantage that Saad's piece of lead procures us: it will spare us the expense of oil."
When the children saw the lamp was put out, and the bit of glass supplied the place, they cried out so loud, and made so great a noise from astonishment, that it was enough to alarm the neighbourhood; and before my wife and I could quiet them we were forced to make a greater noise, nor could we silence them till we had put them to bed; where after talking a long while in their way about the wonderful light of a bit of glass, they fell asleep. After they were asleep, my wife and I went to bed by them; and next morning, without thinking any more of the glass, I went to my work as usual; which ought not to seem strange for such a man as I, who had never seen any diamonds, or if I had, never attended to their value.
But before I proceed, I must tell your majesty that there was but a very slight partition-wall between my house and my next neighbour's, who was a very rich Jew, and a jeweller; and the chamber that he and his wife lay in joined to ours. They were both in bed, and the noise my children made awakened them.
The next morning the jeweller's wife came to mine to complain of being disturbed out of their first sleep. "Good neighbour Rachel," (which was the Jew's wife's name,) said my wife, "I am very sorry for what happened, and hope you will excuse it: you know it was caused by the children, and they will laugh and cry for a trifle. Come in, and I will shew you what was the occasion of the noise."
The Jewess went in with her, and my wife taking the diamond (for such it really was, and a very extraordinary one) out of the chimney, put it into her hands. "See here," said she, "it was this piece of glass that caused all the noise;" and while the Jewess, who understood all sorts of precious stones, was examining the diamond with admiration, my wife told her how she found it in the fish's belly, and what happened.
"Indeed, Ayesha," (which was my wife's name,) said the jeweller's wife, giving her the diamond again, "I believe as you do it is a piece of glass; but as it is more beautiful than common glass, and I have just such another piece at home, I will buy it, if you will sell it."
The children, who heard them talking of selling their plaything, presently interrupted their conversation, crying and begging their mother not to part with it, who, to quiet them, promised she would not.
The Jewess being thus prevented in her intended swindling bargain by my children, went away, but first whispered my wife, who followed her to the door, if she had a mind to sell it, not to shew it to anybody without acquainting her.
The Jew went out early in the morning to his shop in that part of the town where the jewellers sell their goods. Thither his wife followed, and told him the discovery she had made. She gave him an account of the size and weight of the diamond as nearly as she could guess, also of its beauty, water, and lustre, and particularly of the light which it gave in the night according to my wife's account, which was the more credible as she was uninformed.
The Jew sent his wife immediately to treat, to offer her a trifle at first, as she should think fit, and then to raise her price by degrees; but be sure to bring it, cost what it would. Accordingly his wife came again to mine privately, and asked her if she would take twenty pieces of gold for the piece of glass she had shown her.
My wife, thinking the sum too considerable for a mere piece of glass as she had thought it, would not make any bargain; but told her, she could not part with it till she had spoken to me. In the mean time I came from my work to dinner. As they were talking at the door, my wife stopped me, and asked if I would sell the piece of glass she had found in the fish's belly for twenty pieces of gold, which our neighbour offered her. I returned no answer; but reflected immediately on the assurance with which Saad, in giving me the piece of lead, told me it would make my fortune. The Jewess, fancying that the low price she had offered was the reason I made no reply, said, "I will give you fifty, neighbour, if that will do."
As soon as I found that she rose so suddenly from twenty to fifty, I told her that I expected a great deal more. "Well, neighbour," said she, "I will give you a hundred, and that is so much, I know not whether my husband will approve my offering it." At this new advance, I told her I would have a hundred thousand pieces of gold for it; that I saw plainly that the diamond, for such I now guessed it must be, was worth a great deal more, but to oblige her and her husband, as they were neighbours, I would limit myself to that price, which I was determined to have; and if they refused to give it, other jewellers should have it, who would give a great deal more.
The Jewess confirmed me in this resolution, by her eagerness to conclude a bargain; and by coming up at several biddings to fifty thousand pieces, which I refused. "I can offer you no more," said she, "without my husband's consent. He will be at home at night; and I would beg the favour of you to let him see it, which I promised."
At night when the Jew came home, his wife told him what she had done; that she had got no forwarder with my wife or me; that she offered, and I had refused, fifty thousand pieces of gold; but that I had promised to stay till night at her request. He observed the time when I left off work, and came to me. "Neighbour Hassan", said he, "I desire you would shew me the diamond your wife shewed to mine." I brought him in, and shewed it to him. As it was very dark, and my lamp was not lighted, he knew instantly, by the light the diamond gave, and by the lustre it cast in my hand, that his wife had given him a true account of it. He looked at and admired it a long time. "Well, neighbour," said he, "my wife tells me she offered you fifty thousand pieces of gold: I will give you twenty thousand more."
"Neighbour," said I, "your wife can tell you that I valued my diamond at a hundred thousand pieces, and I will take nothing less." He haggled a long time with me, in hopes that I would make some abatement: but finding at last that I was positive, and for fear that I should shew it to other jewellers, as I certainly should have done, he would not leave me till the bargain was concluded on my own terms. He told me that he had not so much money at home, but would pay it all to me on the morrow, that very instant fetched two bags of a thousand pieces each, as an earnest; and the next day, though I do not know how he raised the money, whether he borrowed it of his friends, or let some other jewellers into partnership with him, he brought me the sum we had agreed for at the time appointed, and I delivered to him the diamond.
Having thus sold my diamond, and being rich, infinitely beyond my hopes, I thanked God for his bounty; and would have gone and thrown myself at Saad's feet to express my gratitude, if I had known where he lived; as also at Saadi's, to whom I was first obliged, though his good intention had not the same success.
Afterwards I thought of the use I ought to make of so considerable a sum. My wife, with the vanity natural to her sex, proposed immediately to buy rich clothes for herself and children; to purchase a house, and furnish it handsomely. I told her we ought not to begin with such expenses; "for," said I, "money should only be spent, so that it may produce a fund from which we may draw without its failing. This I intend, and shall begin to-morrow."
I spent all that day and the next in going to the people of my own trade, who worked as hard every day for their bread as I had done; and giving them money beforehand, engaged them to work for me in different sorts of rope-making, according to their skill and ability, with a promise not to make them wait for their money, but to pay them as soon as their work was done.
By this means I engrossed almost all the business of Bagdad, and everybody was pleased with my exactness and punctual payment.
As so great a number of workmen produced, as your majesty may judge, a large quantity of work, I hired warehouses in several parts of the town to hold my goods, and appointed over each a clerk, to sell both wholesale and retail; and by this economy received considerable profit and income. Afterwards, to unite my concerns in one spot, I bought a large house, which stood on a great deal of ground, but was ruinous, pulled it down, and built that your majesty saw yesterday, which, though it makes so great an appearance, consists, for the most part, of warehouses for my business, with apartments absolutely necessary for myself and family.
Some time after I had left my old mean habitation, and removed to this, Saad and Saadi, who had scarcely thought of me from the last time they had been with me, as they were one day walking together, and passing by our street, resolved to call upon me: but great was their surprise when they did not see me at work. They asked what was become of me, and if I was alive or dead. Their amazement was redoubled, when they were told I was become a great manufacturer, and was no longer called plain Hassan, but Khaujeh Hassan al Hubbaul, and that I had built in a street, which was named to them, a house like a palace.
The two friends went directly to the street, and in the way, as Saadi could not imagine that the bit of lead which Saad had given me could have been the raising of my fortune, he said to him, "I am overjoyed to have made Hassan's fortune: but I cannot forgive the two lies he told me, to get four hundred pieces instead of two; for I cannot attribute it to the piece of lead you gave him."
"So you think," replied Saad: "but so do not I. I do not see why you should do Khaujeh Hassan so much injustice as to take him for a liar. You must give me leave to believe that he told us the truth, disguised nothing from us, that the piece of lead which I gave him is the cause of his prosperity: and you will find he will presently tell us so."
During their discourse the two friends came into the street where I lived, asked whereabouts my house stood; and being shewn it, could hardly believe it to be mine.
They knocked at the door, and my porter opened it; when Saadi, fearing to be guilty of rudeness in taking the house of a nobleman for that he was inquiring after, said to the porter, "We are informed that this is the house of Khaujeh Hassan al Hubbaul: tell us if we are mistaken." "You are very right, sir," said the porter, opening the door wider; "it is the same; come in; he is in the hall, and any of the slaves will point him out to you."
I had no sooner set my eyes upon the two friends, than I knew them. I rose from my seat, ran to them, and would have kissed the hem of their garments; but they would not suffer it, and embraced me. I invited them to a sofa made to hold four persons, which was placed full in view of my garden. I desired them to sit down, and they would have me take the place of honour. I assured them I had not forgotten that I was poor Hassan the ropemaker, nor the obligations I had to them; but were this not the case, I knew the respect due to them, and begged them not to expose me. They sat down in the proper place, and I seated myself opposite to them.
Then Saadi, addressing himself to me, said, "Khaujeh Hassan, I cannot express my joy to see you in the condition I wished you, when I twice made you a present of two hundred pieces of gold, for I mean not to upbraid you; though I am persuaded that those four hundred pieces have made this wonderful change in your fortune, which I behold with pleasure. One thing only vexes me, which is, that you should twice disguise the truth from me, pretending that your losses were the effect of misfortunes which now seem to me more than ever incredible. Was it not because, when we were together the last time, you had so little advanced your small income with the four hundred pieces of gold, that you were ashamed to own it? I am willing to believe this, and wait to be confirmed in my opinion."
Saad heard this speech of Saadi's with impatience, not to say indignation, which he shewed by casting down his eyes and shaking his head: he did not, however, interrupt him. When he had done, he said to him, "Forgive me, Saadi, if I anticipate Khaujeh Hassan, before he answers you, to tell you, that I am vexed at your prepossession against his sincerity, and that you still persist in not believing the assurances he has already given you. I have told you before, and I repeat it once more, that I believe those two accidents which befell him, upon his bare assertion; and whatever you may say, I am persuaded they are true; but let him speak himself, and say which of us does him justice."
After this discourse of the two friends, I said, addressing myself to them both, "Gentlemen, I should condemn myself to perpetual silence, on the explanation you ask of me, if I were not certain the dispute you have had on my account cannot break that friendship which subsists between you; therefore I will declare to you the truth, since you require it; and with the same sincerity as before." I then told them every circumstance your majesty has heard, without forgetting the least.
All my protestations had no effect on Saadi, to cure him of his prejudice. "Khaujeh Hassan," replied he, "the adventure of the fish, and diamond found in his belly, appears to me as incredible as the vulture's flying away with your turban, and the exchange of the scouring earth. Be it as it may, I am equally convinced that you are no longer poor, but rich as I intended you should be, by my means; and I rejoice sincerely."
As it grew late, they arose up to depart; when 1 stopped them, and said, "Gentlemen, there is one favour I have to ask; I beg of you not to refuse to do me the honour to stay and take a slight supper with me, also a bed to-night, and to-morrow I will carry you by water to a small country-house, which I bought for the sake of the air, and we will return the same day on my horses."
"If Saad has no business that calls him elsewhere," said Saadi, "I consent." Saad told him that nothing should prevent his enjoying his company. We have only to send a slave to my house, that we may not be waited for. I provided a slave; and while they were giving him their orders, I went and ordered supper.
While it was getting ready, I shewed my benefactors my house, and all my offices, which they thought very extensive considering my fortune: I call them both benefactors without distinction, because without Saadi, Saad would never have given me the piece of lead; and without Saad, Saadi would not have given me the four hundred pieces of gold. Then I brought them back again into the hall, where they asked me several questions about my concerns; and I gave them such answers as satisfied them.
During this conversation, my servants came to tell me that supper was served up. I led them into another hall, where they admired the manner in which it was lighted, the furniture, and the entertainment I had provided. I regaled them also with a concert of vocal and instrumental music during the repast, and afterwards with a company of dancers, and other entertainments, endeavouring as much as possible to shew them my gratitude.
The next morning, as we had agreed to set out early to enjoy the fresh air, we repaired to the river-side by sun-rise, and went on board a pleasure-boat well carpeted that waited for us; and in less than an hour and a half, with six good rowers, and the stream, we arrived at my country house.
When we went ashore, the two friends stopped to observe the beauty of the architecture of my house, and to admire its advantageous situation for prospects, which were neither too much limited nor too extensive, but such as made it very agreeable. I then conducted them into all the apartments, and shewed them the out-houses and conveniences; with all which they were very well pleased
Afterwards we walked in the gardens, where what they were most struck with was a grove of orange and lemon trees, loaded with fruit and flowers, which were planted at equal distances, and watered by channels cut from a neighbouring stream. The close shade, the fragrant smell which perfumed the air, the soft murmurings of the water, the harmonious notes of an infinite number of birds, and many other agreeable circumstances, struck them in such a manner, that they frequently stopped to express how much they were obliged to me for bringing them to so delightful a place, and to congratulate me on my great acquisitions, with other compliments. I led them to the end of the grove, which was very long and broad, where I shewed them a wood of large trees, which terminated my garden, and afterwards a summer-house, open on all sides, shaded by a clump of palm-trees, but not so as to injure the prospect; I then invited them to walk in, and repose themselves on a sofa covered with carpets and cushions.
Two of my boys, whom I had sent into the country, with a tutor, for the air, had gone just then into the wood, and seeing a nest which was built in the branches of a lofty tree, they attempted to get at it; but as they had neither strength nor skill to accomplish their object, they shewed it to the slave who waited on them, and bade him climb the tree for it. The slave, when he came to it, was much surprised to find it composed of a turban: however he took it, brought it down, and shewed it to my children; and as he thought that I might like to see a nest that was so uncommon, he gave it to the eldest boy to bring to me.
I saw the children at a distance, coming back to us, overjoyed to have procured a nest. "Father," said the eldest, "we have found a nest in a turban." The two friends and I were very much surprised at the novelty; but I much more, when I recognized the turban to be that which the vulture had flown away with. After I had examined it well, and turned it about, I said to my guests, "Gentlemen, have you memories good enough to remember the turban I had on the day you did me the honour first to speak to me?" "I do not think," said Saad, "that either my friend or I gave any attention to it; but if the hundred and ninety pieces of gold are in it, we cannot doubt of it."
"Sir," replied I, "there is no doubt but it is the same turban; for besides that I know it perfectly well, I feel by the weight it is too heavy to be any other, and you will perceive this if you give yourself the trouble to take it in your hand." Then after taking out the birds, and giving them to the children, I put it into his hands, and he gave it to Saadi. "Indeed," said Saadi, "I believe it to be your turban; which I shall, however, be better convinced of when I see the hundred and ninety pieces of gold."
"Now, sir," added I, taking the turban again, "observe well before I unwrap it, that it is of no very fresh date in the tree; and the state in which you see it, and the nest so neatly made in it, without having been touched by the hand of man, are sufficient proofs that the vulture drops or laid it in the tree upon the day it was seized; and that the branches hindered it from falling to the ground. Excuse my making this remark, since it concerns me so much to remove all suspicions of fraud." Saad backed me in what I urged; and said, "Saadi, this regards you and not me, for I am verily persuaded that Khaujeh Hassan does not impose upon us."
While Saad was talking, I pulled off the linen cloth which was wrapped about the cap of the turban, and took out the purse, which Saadi knew to be the same he had given me. I emptied it on the carpet before them, and said, "There, gentlemen, there is the money, count it, and see if it be right;" which Saad did, and found it to be one hundred and ninety pieces of gold. Then Saadi, who could not deny so manifest a truth, addressing himself to me said, "I agree, Khaujeh Hassan, that this money could not serve to enrich you; but the other hundred and ninety pieces, which you would make me believe you hid in a pot of bran, might." "Sir," answered I, "I have told you the truth in regard to both sums: you would not have me retract, to make myself a liar."
"Khaujeh Hassan," said Saad, "leave Saadi to his own opinion; I consent with all my heart that he believes you are obliged to him for one part of your good fortune, by means of the last sum he gave you, provided he will agree that I contributed to the other half by the bit of lead, and will not pretend to dispute the valuable diamond found in the fish's belly." "I agree to it," answered Saadi, "but still you must give me liberty to believe that money is not to be amassed without money."
"What," replied Saad, "if chance should throw a diamond in my way worth fifty thousand pieces of gold, and I should have that sum given me for it, can it be said I got that sum by money?"
They disputed no farther at this time; we rose, and went into the house, just as dinner was serving up. After dinner, I left my guests together, to pass away the heat of the day more at their liberty, and with great composure, while I went to give orders to my housekeeper and gardener,
Afterwards I returned to them again, and we talked of indifferent matters till it grew a little cooler; when we returned into the garden for fresh air, and stayed till sun-set. We then mounted on horseback, and got to Bagdad by moonlight, two hours after, followed by one of my slaves.
It happened, I know not by what negligence of my servants, that we were then out of grain for the horses, and the storehouses were all shut up; when one of my slaves seeking about the neighbourhood for some, met with a pot of bran in a shop; bought the bran, and brought the pot along with him, promising to carry it back again the next day. The slave emptied the bran, and dividing it with his hands among the horses, felt a linen cloth tied up, and very heavy; he brought the cloth to me in the condition that he found it, and presented it to me, telling me, that it might perhaps be the cloth he had often heard me talk of among my friends.
Overjoyed, I said to my two benefactors, "Gentlemen, it has pleased God that you should not part from me without being fully convinced of the truth of what I have assured you. There are the other hundred and ninety pieces of gold which you gave me," continued I, addressing myself to Saadi; "I know it well by the cloth, which I tied up with my own hands;" and then I told out the money before them. I ordered the pot to be brought to me, knew it to be the same; and sent to my wife to ask if she recognized it, ordering them to say nothing to her of what had happened. She knew it immediately, and sent me word that it was the same pot she had exchanged full of bran for the scouring-earth.
Saadi readily submitted, renounced his incredulity; and said to Saad, "I yield to you, and acknowledge that money is not always the means of becoming rich."
When Saadi had spoken, I said to him, "I dare not propose to return you the three hundred and eighty pieces of gold which it hath pleased God should be found, to undeceive you as to the opinion of my honesty. I am persuaded that you did not give them to me with an intention that I should return them; but as I ought to be content with what Providence has sent me from other quarters, and I do not design to make use of them; if you approve of my proposal, to-morrow I will give them to the poor, that God may bless us both."
The two friends lay at my house that night also; and next day, after embracing me, returned home, well pleased with the reception I had given them, and to find I did not make an improper use of the riches Heaven had blessed me with. I thanked them both, and regarded the permission they gave me to cultivate their friendship, and to visit them, as a great honour.
The caliph was so attentive to Khaujeh Hassan's story, that he had not perceived the end of it, but by his silence. "Khaujeh Hassan," said he, "I have not for a long time heard any thing that has given me so much pleasure, as having been informed of the wonderful ways by which God gave thee thy riches to make thee happy in this world. Thou oughtest to continue to return him thanks by the good use thou makest of his blessings. I am glad I can tell thee, that the same diamond which made thy fortune is now in my treasury; and I am happy to learn how it came there: but because there may remain in Saadi some doubts on the singularity of this diamond, which I esteem the most precious and valuable jewel I possess, I would have you carry him with Saad to my treasurer, who shall shew it them, to remove Saadi's unbelief, and to let him see that money is not the only means of making a poor man rich in a short time, without labour. I would also have you tell the keeper of my treasury this story, that he may have it put into writing, and that it may be kept with the diamond."
After these words the caliph signified to Khaujeh Hassan, Syed Naomaun, and Baba Abdoollah, by bowing of his head, that he was satisfied with them; they all took their leaves, by prostrating themselves at the throne, and then retired.