THE SULTAN AND THE TRAVELLER MHAMOOD AL HYJEMMEE.
There was a sultan, who one evening being somewhat low-spirited, sent for his vizier, and said, "I know not the cause, but my mind is uneasy, and I want something to divert it." "If so," replied the vizier, "I have a friend, named Mhamood al Hyjemmee, a celebrated traveller, who has witnessed many wonderful occurrences, and can relate a variety of astonishing narratives. Shall I send for him to the presence?" "By all means," answered the sultan, "that I may hear his relations." The minister departed, and informed his friend that the sultan desired to see him. "To hear is to obey," replied Mhamood, and hastened with the vizier to the palace.
When they had entered the palace, Mhamood made the obeisance usual to the caliphs, and uttered a poetical invocation for the prosperity of the sultan, who returned his salute; and after desiring him to be seated, said, "Mhamood, my mind is uneasy, and as I hear you are acquainted with many curious events, I wish you to relate some of them to amuse me." Mhamood replied, "To hear is to obey;" and thus began an adventure of his own.
The Koord Robber.
Some years ago I took a journey from my own country to the land of Yemen, accompanied by a slave, who was a lad of much ready wit, and who carried a wallet containing a few necessaries. As we were entering a town, a rascally koord snatched the wallet from his hands, and asserted that it was his own, which we had stolen from him: upon which, I called out to some passengers to assist me in the recovery of my property, and they helped me to carry the sharper before the cauzee, to whom I complained of his assault. The magistrate asked the koord what he had to allege in his defence; to which he replied, "My lord, I lost this wallet some days since, and found it in possession of the complainant, who pretends that it is his own, and will not resign it." "If it be thine," rejoined the cauzee, "describe to me what it contains, when I shall be satisfied that thou speakest the truth."
The koord assented, and with a loud voice cried out, "In this wallet, my lord, are two chests, in which are collyrium for the eyes, a number of rich napkins, drinking vessels of gold, lamps, cooking utensils, dishes, basins, and ewers; also bales of merchandize, jewels, gold, silks, and other precious articles, with a variety of wearing apparel, carpets, cushions, eating cloths, and other things too tedious to enumerate; besides, I can bring a number of my brother koords to testify to the truth of what I have said, and that the wallet is mine."
When the koord had finished, the cauzee smiled, and asked me and my slave what we could describe to be in the wallet: upon which, my slave said, "My lord, there is nothing in it of what the koord has mentioned, for it contains only both worlds, with all their lands, seas, cities, habitations, men, animals, and productions of every kind." The cauzee laughed, and turning to the koord, said, "Friend, thou hast heard what has past; what further canst thou say?" "The bag is mine," continued the koord: upon which, the cauzee ordered it to be emptied; when, lo! there were found in it some cakes of bread, a few limes, a little pepper, and a cruet of oil. Seeing this, the koord exclaimed, "Pardon me, my lord the cauzee, I have been mistaken, the wallet is not mine; but I must away and search for the thief who has stolen my valuable property." Having said this, he ran off, leaving the cauzee, myself, and the spectators bursting with laughter at his impudent knavery.
The sultan was much diverted with the relation of Mhamood, and requested him to relate another story, which he did as follows.
Story of the Husbandman.
A certain husbandman having reared some choice vegetables and fruits earlier than usual, resolved to present them to the sultan, in hopes of receiving a handsome present. He accordingly loaded his ass and set off for the capital, on the road to which he met the sultan, whom he had never before seen; and who being on a hunting excursion had separated from his attendants. The sultan inquired where he was going, and what he carried. "I am repairing," said the husbandman, "to our lord the sultan, in hopes that he will reward me with a handsome price for my fruits and vegetables, which I have reared earlier than usual." "What dost thou mean to ask him?" replied the sultan. "A thousand deenars," answered the husbandman; "which if he refuses to give, I will demand five hundred; should he think that sum too much, I will come down to two hundred; and if he declines to give so much, I will ask thirty deenars, from which price I will not depart."
The sultan now left the husbandman, and hastening to the city, entered the palace, where the latter soon after arrived with his fruits, and was introduced to the presence. Having made his obeisance, the sultan returning his salute, said, "Father, what hast thou brought with thee?" "Fruits, reared earlier than usual," answered the husbandman: to which the sultan replied, "They are acceptable," and uncovering them, sent a part by the eunuchs into his haram, and distributed the rest to his courtiers, excepting a few which he ate himself, talking all the while to the countryman, whose sensible remarks gave him much pleasure. He presented him with two hundred deenars, and the ladies of the haram sent him a present of half that sum. The sultan then desired him to return home, give the money to his family, and come back with speed, as he wished to enjoy his conversation. The husbandman having replied, "To hear is to obey," blessed the sultan for his bounty, and hastening home gave the deenars to his wife, informing her that he was invited to spend the evening at court, and took his leave. It was sunset when he arrived at the palace, and the sultan being at his evening meal invited him to partake. When they were satisfied, they performed their ablutions, and having said the evening prayer, and read a portion of the Koraun, the sultan, desiring him to be seated, commanded the husbandman to relate him some narrative. The husbandman being seated, thus began.
Story of the Three Princes and Enchanting Bird.
It has been lately related that there was formerly a sovereign of the East who had three sons, the eldest of whom had heard some traveller describe a particular country where there was a bird called Bulbul al Syach, who transformed any passenger who came near him into stone. The prince resolved to see this wonderful bird; and requested leave to travel from his father, who endeavoured in vain to divert him from his purpose. He took leave, and on his departure, pulling off a ring set with a magical gem, gave it to his second brother, saying, "Whenever you perceive this ring press hard upon your finger, be assured that I am lost beyond recovery." Having begun his journey, he did not cease travelling till he reached the spot where was the bird's cage, in which it used to pass the night, but in the daytime it flew about for exercise and food.
It was the custom of the bird to return about sunset to the cage; when, if it perceived any person near, it would cry out in a plaintive tone, "Who will say to a poor wanderer, Lodge? who will say to an unhappy Bulbul, Lodge?" and if the person replied, "Lodge, poor bird!" it immediately hovered over his head, and scattering upon him some earth from its bill, the person became transformed into a stone. Such proved the fate of the unfortunate prince.
The transformation of the eldest prince had no sooner taken place than the ring pressed hard upon the finger of the second, who exclaimed, "Alas! alas! my brother is lost; but I will travel, and endeavour to find out his condition." It was in vain that the sultan his father, and the sultana his mother, remonstrated. He departed after he had delivered the magical ring to his younger brother, and journeyed till he reached the cage of the bird; who having ensnared him to pronounce the word lodge, scattered some earth upon his head, when he, also, immediately became transformed into stone.
At this instant the youngest prince was sitting at a banquet with his father; when the ring pressed so hard to his finger, as to put him to much pain. He rose up, and exclaimed, "There is no refuge or asylum but with God; for his we are, and to him we must return." The sultan, upon this, inquired the cause of his grief; when he said, "My brother has perished."
The old sultan was loudly lamenting the loss of his two children, when the youngest continued, "I will travel and learn the fate of my brothers." "Alas!" said the father, "is it not enough that I have lost them, but thou also wilt rush into destruction? I entreat thee not to leave me." "Father," replied the prince, "fate impels me to search for my brothers, whom, perhaps, I may recover; but if I fail, I shall only have done my duty." Having said this, he departed, in spite of the tears and lamentations of his parents, and travelled till he had reached the residence of the bird; where he found his brothers transformed into images of stone. At sunset the bird began its usual tone; but the prince suspecting some deceit, forbore to speak, till at length the Bulbul retired to his cage, and fell asleep; when watching the opportunity, the prince darted upon it, and fastened the door. The bird awoke at the noise, and seeing himself caught, said, "Thou hast won the prize, O glorious son of a mighty sultan!" "If so," exclaimed the prince, "inform me by what means thou hast enchanted so many persons as I see around me changed into images of marble, and how I may release them from their unhappy state." "Behold," replied the bird, "yonder two heaps of earth, one white and the other blue. The blue enchants, and the other will recover from transformation."
The prince immediately took up handfuls of the white earth, and scattering it over the numerous images, they instantly became animated and restored to all their functions. He embraced his two brothers, and received their thanks; also those of the sons of many sultans, bashaws, and great personages, for giving them new life. They informed him that near the spot was a city, all the inhabitants of which had been, like them, transformed into stone. To this he repaired, and having relieved them from their enchantment, the people out of gratitude made him rich presents, and would have chosen him for their sovereign, but he declined their offer, and resolved to conduct his brothers in safety to their father.
The two elder princes, notwithstanding they owed the restoration of their lives to their brother, became envious of the valuable presents he had received, and of the fame he would acquire at home for his achievement. They said to one another, "When we reach the capital the people will applaud him, and say, 'Lo! the two elder brothers have been rescued from destruction by the youngest.'"
The youngest prince being supplied with horses, camels, and carriages, for himself and companions, began his march homewards, and proceeded by easy stages towards the capital of his father; within one day's journey of which was a reservoir of water lined with marble. On the brink of this he ordered his tents to be pitched, resolving to pass the night and enjoy himself in feasting with his brothers. An elegant entertainment was prepared, and he sat with them till it was time to repose; when they retired to their tents, and he lay down to sleep, having on his finger a ring, which he had found in the cage of the Bulbul.
The envious brothers thinking this a fit opportunity to destroy their generous preserver, arose in the dead of night, and taking up the prince, cast him into the reservoir, and escaped to their tents undiscovered. In the morning they issued orders of march, the tents were struck, and the camels loaded; but the attendants missing the youngest prince, inquired after him; to which the brothers replied, that being asleep in his tent, they were unwilling to disturb him. This satisfied them, and having pursued their march they reached the capital of their father, who was overjoyed at their return, and admired the beauty of the Bulbul, which they had carried with them; but he inquired with eagerness what was become of their brother.
The brothers replied, "We know nothing of him, and did not till now hear of his departure in search of the bird, which we have brought with us." The sultan dearly loved his youngest son; and on hearing that his brothers had not seen him, beat his hands together, exclaiming, "Alas! alas! there is no refuge or asylum but with the Almighty, from whom we came, and to whom we must return."
We must now return to the youngest brother. When he was cast into the reservoir he awoke, and finding himself in danger, exclaimed, "I seek deliverance from that God who relieveth his servants from the snares of the wicked." His prayer was heard, and he reached the bottom of the reservoir unhurt; where he seated himself on a ledge, when he heard persons talking. One said to another, "Some son of man is near." "Yes," replied the other, "he is the youngest son of our virtuous sultan; who, after having delivered his two brothers from enchantment, hath been treacherously cast into this reservoir." "Well," answered the first voice, "he may easily escape, for he has a ring upon his finger, which if he will rub a genie will appear to him and perform whatever he may command."
The prince no sooner heard these words than he rubbed his hand over the ring, when a good genie appearing, said, "Prince, what are thy commands?"
"I command," replied the prince, "that thou instantly prepare me tents, camels, domestics, guards, and every thing suitable to my condition." "All is ready," answered the genie; who, at the same instant taking him from the ledge, conducted him into a splendid encampment, where the troops received him with acclamations. He ordered signals of march to be sounded, and proceeded towards the capital of his father. When he had arrived near the city, he commanded his tents to be pitched on the plain. Immediately his orders were obeyed, the tents were raised (a most magnificent one for himself), before which the servants raised a gorgeous awning, and sprinkled water to lay the dust. The cooks lighted their fires, and a great smoke ascended, which filled the plain.
The inhabitants of the city were astonished at the approach of the army, and when they saw the encampment pitched, supposed it to be that of a powerful enemy preparing for assaulting them. Intelligence of this unexpected host was conveyed to the sultan; who, on hearing it, instead of alarm, felt a pleasure which he could not account for, and said, "Gracious Allah! my heart is filled with delight; but why I know not." Immediately he commanded his suite to attend, and repaired to the encampment of his son, to whom he was introduced; but the prince being habited very richly, and differently from what he had seen him in, was not known by the sultan.
The prince received his father with the honours due to his rank, and when they were seated, and had entered into conversation, said, "What is become of thy youngest son?" The words were scarcely uttered, when the old sultan fell fainting to the earth. On his recovery, he exclaimed, "Alas! my son's imprudence led him to travel, and he has fallen a prey to the beasts of the forest." "Be comforted," replied the prince; "the disasters of fortune have not reached thy son, for he is alive and in health." "Is it possible?" cried the sultan; "ah! tell me where I shall find him!" "He is before thee," replied the prince: upon which, the sultan looking more closely, knew him, fell upon his neck, wept, and sunk to the earth overpowered with ecstacy.
When the sultan had recovered, he desired his son to relate his adventures, which he did from first to last. Just as he had finished the elder brothers arrived, and seeing him in such splendour, hung down their heads, abashed and unable to speak; but yet more envious than ever. The old sultan would have put them to death for their treachery, but the youngest prince said, "Let us leave them to the Almighty, for whoever commits sin will meet its punishment in himself."
When the husbandman had concluded the above story, the sultan was so highly pleased that he presented him with a large sum of money, and a beautiful slave, inquiring at the same time if he could divert him with another story, to which he replied in the affirmative.
On another night, when the sultan and the countryman had sat down to converse, the former desired him to relate some ancient story, when the latter began as follows.
Story of a Sultan of Yemen and his three Sons.
It has been related, that in the kingdom of Yemen there was a sultan who had three sons, two of whom were born of the same mother, and the third of another wife, with whom becoming disgusted from some caprice, and having degraded her to the station of a domestic, he suffered her and her son to live unnoticed among the servants of the haram. The two former, one day, addressed their father, requesting his permission to hunt: upon which he presented them each with a horse of true blood, richly caparisoned, and ordered proper domestics to attend them to the chase.
When they had departed, the unfortunate youngest brother repaired to his unhappy mother, and expressed his wishes to enjoy, like the elder princes, the pleasures of the field. "My son," replied she, "it is not in my power to procure thee a horse or other necessaries." Upon this he wept bitterly; when she gave him some of her silver ornaments, which he took, and having sold them, with the price purchased a foundered steed. Having mounted it, and provided himself with some bread, he followed the track of his brothers for two days, but on the third lost his way. After wandering two days more he beheld upon the plain a string of emeralds and pearls, which shone with great lustre. Having taken it up, he wreathed it round his turban, and returned homewards exulting in his prize; but when he had arrived near the city his brothers met him, pulled him from his horse, beat him, and forced it from him. He excelled them both in prowess and vigour, but he was fearful of the sultan's displeasure, and his mother's safety, should he punish his insulters. He therefore submitted to the indignity and loss, and retired.
The two cowardly princes entered the palace, and presented the string of jewels to the sultan; who, after admiring it, said, "I shall not rest satisfied till the bird arrives to whom this certainly must have belonged:" upon which the brothers replied, "We will travel in search of it, and bring it to our august father and sultan."
Preparations being made, the brothers departed, and the youngest prince having mounted his lame steed followed them. After three days' journey he reached an arid desert, which having passed over by great exertion, he arrived almost exhausted at a city; which on entering he found resounding with the shrieks of lamentation and woe. At length he met with a venerable old man, to whom having made a respectful salute, he inquired of him the cause of such universal mourning. "My son," replied the old man, "on a certain day during the last forty-three years, a terrible monster has appeared before our city, demanding a beautiful virgin to be delivered up to him, threatening to destroy it in case of refusal. Unable to defend ourselves, we have complied with his demand, and the damsels of the city have drawn lots for the dreadful sacrifice; but this year the chance has fallen upon the beautiful daughter of our sultan. This is the day of the monster's usual arrival, and we are involved in universal lamentation for her unhappy fate."
When the young prince heard the above, he, under the direction of the old man, repaired to the place of the monster's resort, resolved to conquer him or die. Scarcely had he reached it, when the princess approached it, splendidly habited, but with a dejected head, and drowned in tears. He made a respeftful salute, which she returned, saying, "Hasten, young man, from this spot, for a monster will soon appear, to whom, by my unhappy fate, I am destined. Should he discover thee, he will tear thee in pieces." "Princess," replied he, "I know the circumstance, and am resolved to become a ransom for thy beauty."
The prince had hardly uttered these words, when a column of dust arose; from which with dreadful howlings and fury the monster issued, lashing his gigantic sides with his thick tail. The princess shrieked, and wept in the agonies of fear; but the prince drawing his sabre, put himself in the way of the savage monster; who, enraged, snorted fire from his wide nostrils, and made a spring at the prince. The gallant youth with wonderful agility evaded his talons, and darting from side to side of the monster, watched his opportunity, till rushing upon him, he cleft his head asunder just between his eyes, when the huge creature fell down and growled his last in a tremendous roar.
The princess, on seeing the monster expire, ran to her deliverer, wiped the dust and sweat from his face with her veil, uttering grateful thanks, to which he replied, "Return to thy lamenting parents;" but she would not, and said, "My lord, and light of my eyes, thou must be mine and I thine." "That is perhaps impossible," rejoined the prince; and hastening from her, he returned to the city, where he took up his lodging in an obscure corner. She now repaired to the palace. On her entrance, the sultan and her mother were astonished, and inquired in alarm the cause of her return; fearing that she had escaped from the monster, who would in revenge destroy the city.
The princess related the story of her deliverance by a handsome youth: upon which, the sultan, with his attendants, and most of the inhabitants of the place, repaired to view the monster, whom they found extended dead on the earth. The whole city was now filled with grateful thanksgivings and universal rejoicing. The sultan, eager to shew his gratitude to the gallant youth, said to the princess, "Shouldst thou know thy deliverer wert thou to see him again?" "Certainly!" replied she; for love had impressed his image on her mind too strongly to be ever erased.
The sultan, upon this, issued a proclamation, commanding every male in the city to pass under the windows of his daughter's apartment; which was done successively for three days; but she did not recognize her beloved champion. The sultan then inquired if all the men of the city had obeyed his commands, and was informed that all had done so, except a young man at a certain serai, who was a foreigner, and therefore had not attended. The sultan ordered him to appear; and he had no sooner approached the window than the princess threw down upon his head an embroidered handkerchief, exclaiming, "This is our deliverer from the fangs of the monster."
The sultan now ordered the young prince to be introduced to his presence, to which he advanced, making the obeisances customary to royal personages in a graceful manner. "Art thou the destroyer of the monster?" exclaimed the sultan. "I am," answered the prince. "Tell me how I can reward thee?" replied the sultan. "My request to God and your majesty," answered the prince, "is, that the princess thy daughter may be given me in marriage." "Rather ask me a portion of my treasures," rejoined the sultan. Upon this, the officers of the court observed, that as he had saved the princess from death, he was worthy of her; and the sultan at length consenting, the marriage knot was tied. The young prince received his bride, and the nuptials were consummated. Towards the close of night he arose, and having taken off her ring, put his own in its room on her finger, and wrote upon the palm of her hand, "I am called Alla ad Deen, the son of a potent sultan, who rules in Yemen; if thou canst come to me there, well; otherwise remain with thy father."
When the prince had done as above related, he left his bride asleep, and quitting the palace and city, pursued his travels; during which he married another wife, whom he had saved from an elephant in a similar way: he left her in the same manner as the first.
When the prince had left his second wife, he proceeded in search of the bird to whom the string of emeralds and pearls had belonged, and at length reached the city of its mistress, who was daughter to the sultan, a very powerful monarch. Having entered the capital, he walked through several streets, till at last he perceived a venerable old man, whose age seemed to be, at least, that of a hundred years, sitting alone. He approached him, and having paid his respects, sat down, and entering into conversation, at length said, "Canst thou, my uncle, afford me any information respecting a bird, whose chain is composed of pearls and emeralds, or of its mistress?"
The old man remained silent, involved in thought, for some instants; after which, he said, "My son, many sultans and princes have wished to attain this bird and the princess, but failed in the attempt; however, do thou procure seven lambs, kill them, flay and cut them up into halves. In the palace are eight courts, at the gates of seven of which are placed two hungry lions; and in the latter, where the princess resides, are stationed forty slaves. Go, and try thy fortune."
The prince having thanked the old man, took his leave, procured the lambs, cut them up as directed, and towards midnight, when the step of man had ceased from passing, repaired to the first gate of the palace, before which he beheld two monstrous lions, their eyes flaming like the mouth of a lighted oven. He cast before each half a lamb, and while they were devouring it passed on. By the same stratagem he arrived safely into the eighth court: at the gate of which lay the forty slaves sunk in profound sleep. He entered cautiously, and beheld the princess in a magnificent hall, reposing on a splendid bed; near which hung her bird in a cage of gold wire strung with valuable jewels. He approached gently, and wrote upon the palm of her hand, "I am Alla ad Deen, son of a sultan of Yemen. I have seen thee sleeping, and taken away thy bird. Shouldst thou love me, or wish to recover thy favourite, come to my father's capital." He then departed from the palace, and having reached the plain, stopped to repose till morning.
The prince being refreshed, at day-light having invoked Allah to protect him from discovery, travelled till sunset, when he discovered an Arab encampment, to which he repaired and requested shelter. His petition was readily attended to by the chief; who seeing him in possession of the bird, which he knew, said to himself, "This hyoung man must be a favourite of heaven, or he could not have obtained a prize for which so many potent sultans, princes, and viziers, have vainly fallen sacrifices." He entertained him with hospitality, but asked no questions, and in the morning dismissed him with prayers for his welfare, and a present of a beautiful horse. Alla ad Deen having thanked his generous host took leave, and proceeded unceasingly till he arrived within sight of his father's capital. On the plain he was again overtaken by his two brothers, returning from their unsuccessful expedition, who seeing the bird and splendid cage in his possession, dragged him suddenly from his horse, beat him cruelly, and left him. They entered the city, and presenting the cage to their father, framed an artful tale of danger and escapes that they had undergone in procuring it; on hearing which, the sultan loaded them with caresses and praises, while the unfortunate Alla ad Deen retired bruised and melancholy to his unhappy mother.
The young prince informed his mother of his adventures, complained heavily of his loss, and expressed his resolves to be revenged upon his envious brothers. She comforted him, entreated him to be patient, and wait for the dispensations of Allah; who, in proper season, would shew his power in the revealment of justice. We now return to the princess who had lost her bird.
When she awoke in the morning, and missed her bird, she was alarmed; but on perceiving what was written upon her palm still more so. She shrieked aloud; her attendants ran in, and finding her in a frantic state, informed the sultan; who, anxious for her safety, hastened to the apartment. The princess being somewhat recovered, related the loss of her bird, shewed the writing on her hand, and declared that she would marry no one but him who had seen her asleep. The sultan finding remonstrances vain, agreed to accompany his daughter in search of the prince, and issued orders for his army to prepare for a march to Yemen.
When the troops were assembled, the sultan conducted his daughter to the camp, and on the day following marched; the princess with her ladies being conveyed in magnificent equipages. No halt was made till the army arrived near the city, where Alia ad Deen had delivered the daughter of its sultan by killing the elephant. A friendly ambassador being dispatched to request permission to encamp and purchase a supply of provisions, he was honourably received, and the sultan of the city proceeded in great pomp to visit his brother monarch, who then informed him of the object of his expedition. This convinced the other sultan that the stealer of the bird must also have been the deliverer of his daughter, and he resolved to join in the search. Accordingly, after three days of splendid entertainments and rejoicings, the two sultans, with the two princesses, and their united forces, moved towards Yemen. Their route lay through the capital, the daughter of whose sultan Alla ad Deen had saved from the fangs of the savage monster.
On the arrival of the allies at this city an explanation similar to the last took place, and the third sultan resolved to accompany them in search of the husband of his daughter, who readily agreed to join the other princesses. They marched; and on the route the princess who had lost her bird was fully informed by the others of the beauty, prowess, and manly vigour of Alla ad Deen; which involved her more than ever in anxious impatience to meet him. At length, by continued and uninterrupted movements, the three sultans reached Yemen, and pitched their encampments about sunset on a verdant plain well watered, near the capital.
It was with much dread and apprehension that the sultan of Yemen beheld such a numerous host encamped so near his residence; but he concealed his fears, and gave proper orders for securing it from surprise during the night. With the morning his alarms were removed, as the allied sultans dispatched an ambassador with rich presents, assurances that they had no hostile intentions, and a request that he would honour them by a visit to their camp, and furnish it with supplies. The sultan complied with the invitation, and the suite being prepared, he proceeded, attended by all his courtiers in the highest magnificence, to the encampment; where he was received with due honours. At the outposts the three sultans met him, and after the usual greetings of ceremony conducted him to a splendid tent made of crimson velvet, the fringes and ropes of which were composed of gold threads, the pins of solid silver, and the lining of the richest silver tissue, embroidered with flowers of raised work in silks of all colours, intermixed with foils and gold. It was covered with superb carpets, and at the upper end on a platform spread with gold brocade were placed four stools, the coverings of which, and the cushions, were magnificent beyond description, being made of Persian velvet, fringed and flowered with costly pearls.
When the four sultans were seated, and some conversation had taken place, in which the latter was informed of the occasion of the others having marched into his country, the cloth was spread, and a magnificent entertainment served up in dishes of agate, crystal, and gold. The basins and ewers for washing were of pure gold set with jewels. Such was the richness of every thing, that the sultan with difficulty refrained from shewing his surprise, and inwardly exclaimed, "By Allah, till now I never have beheld such a profusion of splendour, elegance, and valuable furniture!" When the meal was ended, coffee, various sorts of confections, and sherbets were brought in; after which the company conversed. The three sultans inquired of their royal guest if he had any children, to which he replied that he had two sons.
The sultans then requested that he would send for them: upon which, their father dispatched a messenger to summon them to his presence. They repaired to the camp, mounted on chargers richly caparisoned, and most splendidly dressed. On their entering the tent, the princesses, who were seated in a recess concealed from view by blinds of gold wire, gazed eagerly at them; and she who had lost her bird inquired of the other two if either of them was their husband. They replied in the negative, remarking that he was of personal beauty, and dignified appearance, far superior to these princes. The three sultans, also, questioned their daughters on the subject, and received similar answers.
The sultans, upon this, inquired of the father of the princes if he had any other sons; to which he replied that he had one; but that he had long rejected him, and also his mother, from notice; and that they lived among the domestics of the palace. The sultans entreated to see him, and he was introduced, but in a mean habit. The two princesses whom he had delivered from the monsters and married immediately recognized him, and exclaimed together, "This is truly our beloved husband!" He was then embraced by the sultans, and admitted to his wives; who fell upon his neck in transports of joy and rapture, kissing him between his eyes, while the princess who had lost the bird prostrated herself before him, covered with a veil, and kissed his hand.
After this scene the young prince returned to his father, and the other sultans, who received him respectfully, and seated him by them, at which the father was astonished; but more so, when, turning to his brothers, he addressed them, saying, "Which of you first found the string of emeralds and pearls?" To this they made no reply: when he continued, "Who of you killed the monster, destroyed the elephant, or, fortifying his mind, dared to enter the palace of this sultan, and bring away the cage with the bird? When you both, coward-like, rushed upon me, robbed me of my prizes, and wounded me, I could easily have overcome you; but I felt that there was a season appointed by Providence for justice upon you and my wretched father, who rejected my mother and myself, depriving us of our just claims." Having thus spoken, he drew his sabre, and rushing upon the two guilty princes struck them dead, each at one blow. He would, in his rage, have attacked his father; but the sultans prevented him, and having reconciled them, the old sultan promised to leave him his heir, and to restore his mother to her former rank and consequence. His nuptials with the third princess were then celebrated; and their fathers, after participating for forty days in the magnificent entertainments given on the occasion, took leave, and returned to their several kingdoms. The old sultan finding himself, from age, incapable of the cares of government, resigned the throne to his son, whose authority was gladly submitted to by the people, who admired his prowess and gallantry.
Some time after his accession to the kingdom, attended only by some select courtiers, and without the cumbrous appendages of royalty, he left his capital upon a hunting excursion. In the course of the sport, passing over a desert plain, he came to a spot where was the opening of a cave, into which he entered, and observed domestic utensils and other marks of its being inhabited; but no one was then within it.
The curiosity of the sultan being excited, he resolved to wait until the owners of the cave should appear, and cautioned his attendants not to mention his rank. He had not sat long, when a man was seen advancing with a load of provisions and two skins of water. On his coming to the mouth of the cave, the sultan addressed him, saying, "Whence comest thou, where art thou going, and what dost thou carry?" "I am," replied the man, "one of three companions, who inhabit this cave, having fled from our city to avoid imprisonment, and every ten days one of us goes to purchase provisions: to-day was my turn, and my friends will be here presently." "What was the cause of your flight?" rejoined the sultan. "As to that," answered the man, "it can only be communicated by the relation of our adventures, which are curious, and if you wish to hear them, stay with us to-night, and we will each, in our turn, relate his own story."
The sultan upon this, said to himself, "I will not move from this spot until I have heard their adventures;" and immediately dispatched his attendants, excepting a few, with orders to bring from the city some necessaries for the night. "For," thought he, "hearing these stories will be pleasanter than hunting, as they may, perhaps, inform my mind." He remained in the cave with his few followers; and soon after arrived the two other inmates, who were succeeded by the sultan's messengers with the requisites for a substantial repast, of which all partook without ceremony. When it was finished, the sultan desired the owners of the cave to relate their adventures; and they replied, "To hear is to obey:" the first beginning as follows.
Story of the First Sharper in the Cave.
My father died when I was a youth, leaving my mother and myself with little property, but an old she-goat, which we sold, and with the price bought a calf, and nourished her as well as we could for a whole year; when my mother desired me to go and dispose of her in the market. Accordingly I went, and soon perceived that there was not a fatter or finer beast in the market. The company of butchers, composed of forty persons, fixed their eyes upon the calf, and supposing me an ignorant lad, resolved to have her for little or nothing, and feast themselves upon her flesh. After concerting among themselves, one of them coming up, said, "My lad, dost thou mean to sell this she-goat?" "Goat!" replied I, "it is a calf." "Nay," answered he, "surely thou must be blind or under enchantment; but, old as the goat is, if thou wilt sell it, I will give thee a koorsh for her." I angrily refused, and he went away; when presently up came another; and, in short, in regular succession the whole forty, the last of whom was the chief of the butchers. I perceived the connivance to cheat me, and resolving to be revenged, said, "I am convinced I am deceived, so you shall have the goat, if such she is, for the koorsh, provided you let me have her tail." This was agreed to, and it being cut off, I delivered my calf to the chief of the butchers, received the money, and returned home.
On my arrival at home, my mother asked if I had sold the calf; to which I replied, "Yes, for a koorsh, and her tail into the bargain." She thought me stupid or mad, and inquired what I would do with the latter. I answered, "I will be amply revenged on the sharpers, who pretended that my calf was a she-goat, and force from them, at least, a thousand times the price they gave me." After this, I skinned the tail, cut the leather into thongs, and twisted them into a whip with hard thick knots. I then disguised myself in female attire, taking pains to make myself look as handsome as possible with the assistance of my mother, who put soorma into my eyelids, and arranged my eyebrows, stained my hands with hinna, and directed me how to ogle and smile. In short, as I was then a beardless lad, and reckoned comely, I appeared as a very desirable maiden in my disguise.
On my arrival at the house of the chief of the butchers, I found him sitting with his companions in the court. The whole of my calf had been cooked in various ways, and they were just going to spread the cloth and feast upon it. On my entrance I made a profound salutation: upon which they all rose up to return it, and having *teated me welcomely, whispered one to another, saying, "By Allah, this will be a night of glorious festivity, illumined by so much beauty! however, our chief must have the preference, this night shall be his; after which we will all cast lots for his turn of enjoyment."
When we had feasted on my calf, and the night was far advanced, the butchers took leave, departed to their homes, and I remained alone with the chief, who began to entertain me with amusing conversation. Observing a rope hanging from the ceiling of an apartment, I, as if ignorant of its purpose, inquired the use of it; when the venerable chief of the butchers informed me it was for suspending animals to cut up; also, occasionally his dependants, whose crimes required the punishment of flogging. Upon this I expressed a great desire to be tied with the rope, drawn up, and swung for amusement. "My dear lady," replied he, "the cord will hurt thy delicate skin; but thou shall put it round me, draw me up, and see the use without injuring thyself."
I consented to the wish of the chief butcher, placed the cord under his arms, and drew him up till the ends of his toes scarcely touched the ground. I then secured the rope, and for some moments kept running playfully round him, and tickling his sides, which made him laugh with delight. At length, tired of his posture, he desired me to release him; but I refused, saying, "My dear chief, I have not yet finished my amusement;" after which I tore the clothes from his back, as if in merriment. When I had done this, I pulled out my whip, which was well knotted, saying, "This is the tail of a she-goat, and not of a calf." The butcher now began to be somewhat alarmed, asking me who I was, and whence I came? to which I replied, "I am the owner of the fat calf, of which thou and thy villanous companions so rascally cheated me." I then bared my arm to my elbow, and so belaboured his back and sides with my whip that he roared in agony; nor did I leave off till his skin was completely flayed, and he fainted from the pain. After this I searched the apartment, found a bag containing three hundred deenars, some handsome dresses, and other valuable articles, all of which I bundled up, and carried off; leaving the chief of the butchers, suspended, to his fate. When I had reached home, I gave my prize to my mother, saying, "This is only part of the value of my calf, which I have just received of the purchaser."
Early in the morning the butchers repaired, as usual, to the residence of their chief, and finding the door of the court-yard locked, joked one with another, saying, "Our old gentleman has been so fatigued with his happiness that he sleeps longer than ordinary." They waited till near noon, when they called out for admittance; but receiving no answer, became apprehensive of some disaster, and forcing the door, found their chief suspended, almost lifeless, and his scars dropping blood. To their inquiries into the cause of his doleful situation, he replied, "That pretended vixen was no woman, but a brawny youth, the owner of the calf; who, in return for our roguery, has flogged me thus, and carried off all he could find in my chamber worth having." The butchers vowed revenge, saying, "We will seize and put him to death;" but their chief requested them for the present to be patient, and carry him to a warm bath, that he might wash and get his wounds dressed.
I observed the chief butcher enter the bathing house alone, while his followers waited at the gate: upon which I went to a slaughter-house, poured over my back the blood of a sheep, dabbed it with plaisters of cotton, and leaning on a crutch, as if in agony of pain, repaired to the bath. At first the butchers refused me admittance, saying their chief was within; but on my entreating their compassion for my miserable condition, they at length permitted me to enter. Passing through the different rooms, I came to the bath, in which I found the unfortunate chief washing his scars. I pulled out my whip, and having said to him, "Shekh, this is the tail of my calf!" flogged him again so severely that he fainted; after which I made my escape by another entrance to the hummaum, which opened into a different street.
The butchers growing impatient at the long stay of their chief in the bath, at length entered, and found him in extreme agony. He informed them of this second revenge of the owner of the calf, and requested that he would take him into the country, pitch a tent for his reception, and remain to guard him till he should be cured of his wounds. They did so; but I watched their motions, and disguising myself, repaired in the evening towards the tent. Here I found a Bedouin Arab, whom I bribed with a piece of gold to cry out, "I am the owner of the calf, and will have the life of your chief!" cautioning him at the same time, after he had so exclaimed, to make his escape as quickly as possible from the butchers, who would pursue him. "I shall not heed them," replied he, "though they may be mounted on the fleetest coursers."
Having said this, the Bedouin went up close to the tents, bawling out vociferously, as I had direfted him: upon which all the butchers started up and pursued him, but in vain, to a great distance. I then entered the tent in which the chief was reposing alone, and pulling out my whip, once more flogged him till he roared with agony. When I was tired I bundled up such articles as I could lay my hands on; and returning home, presented them to my mother, saying, "Here is the balance of the price of our calf."
The butchers having attempted to overtake the Bedouin, till they were wearied with running, but in vain, returned to their chief, whom they found in a fainting fit from the pain of his wounds. Having sprinkled water on his face, they recovered him so far that he was able to inform them of what had happened; and to request them to convey him once more to his own house, to give out that he was dead of his wounds, and make a mock funeral; when, possibly, the owner of the calf, believing him departed this life, might cease to torment him.
The butchers obeyed the commands of their chief, and reporting that he was dead, laid him in a litter, and marched in mournful procession towards the burying ground, followed by a great concourse of people. Mixing with the crowd, in disguise, I at length stooped under the litter, and giving the chief, who lay extended in a winding sheet, a smart poke with a pointed stick, up he jumped, to the astonishment of the beholders; who cried out, "A miracle! a miracle! the dead is raised to life!" while I made my escape in the throng; but being fearful that the many tricks I had played, especially this last, might excite inquiry, and lead to a discovery, I fled from the city, and resolved to remain in this cave till curiosity should subside.
The sultan exclaimed, "These adventures are surprising;" when the second inhabitant of the cave said, "My lord, my story is much more wonderful than the last; for I contrived not only to be dead and buried, but to escape from the tomb." "Possibly," said the sultan, "thy adventures may have been stranger than those of this man; but if any of you are acquainted with the memoirs of ancient monarchs, I could wish you to relate them; however, at present, I must take you with me to the palace, that I may make you welcome." When the men heard this proposition, they were alarmed, and cried out, "What, my lord, would you carry us to the city from which we have escaped to save our lives?" "Fear not," replied he, "I am the sultan, and was amusing myself with hunting when I chanced to discover your cave." They bowed themselves before him, and exclaimed, "To hear is to obey;" after which they attended him to the city. On their arrival, the sultan ordered them proper apartments and suitable entertainment, and invested each of them with a rich habit. For some days they remained enjoying themselves; when, at length, one evening the sultan commanded them to his presence, and requested a narrative, when one of them related the following story.
History of the Sultan of Hind.
In ancient days there lived a sultan of Hind, than whom no prince of the age was greater in extent of territory, riches, or force; but Heaven had not allotted to him offspring, either male or female: on which account he was involved in sorrow. One morning, being even more melancholy than usual, he put on a red habit, and repaired to his divan; when his vizier, alarmed at the robes of mourning, said, "What can have occasioned my lord to put on this gloomy habit?" "Alas!" replied the sultan, "my soul is this morning overclouded with melancholy." "Repair then to the treasury," said the vizier, "and view thy wealth; as, perhaps, the lustre of gold, and the brilliant sparkling of jewels, may amuse thy senses and disperse thy sorrow." "Vizier," answered the sultan, "this world to me is all vanity; I regard nothing but the contemplation of the Deity: yet how can I be relieved from melancholy, since I have lived to this age and he has not blessed me with children, either sons or daughters, who are the ornaments of manhood in this world?"
The sultan had scarcely ceased speaking, when a human figure of a dusky hue appeared before him, and said, "My sovereign, here is a confection left me by my ancestors, with an assurance, that whoever might eat of it would have offspring." The sultan eagerly took the confection, and by the blessing of Allah, one of the ladies of his haram conceived that very night. When her pregnancy was made known to him, the sultan was overjoyed, distributed large sums in charity to the poor, and every day comforted the distressed by his bounty.
When the sultana had gone her full time, she was delivered of a son beautiful in aspect, and of graceful person; at which the sultan became overjoyed, and on that day set apart one half of his treasures for the use of the infant prince, who was intrusted to the charge of experienced nurses. After he had thrived sufficiently at the breast he was weaned, and at six years of age put under the care of learned tutors, who taught him to write, to read the Koran, and instructed him in the other several branches of literature. When he had completed his twelfth year, he was accomplished in horsemanship, archery, and throwing the lance, till at length he became a distinguished cavalier, and excelled the most celebrated equestrians.
The young prince being on a certain day hunting in the vicinity of the capital, there suddenly appeared soaring and wheeling in the air a bird, whose plumage was of the most beautiful and glossy green. The prince let fly an arrow, but without effect, and the bird suddenly disappeared. It was in vain that he turned his eye to all quarters, in hopes of again discovering his wished-for prey, for the bird had flown out of sight, and the prince after searching in all directions till the close of day, returned vexed and much disappointed to his father's palace. On his entrance, the sultan and sultana perceiving his countenance gloomy, inquired the cause of his melancholy, when he informed them of the bird: upon which, they said, "Dear son, the creaures of the Almighty are innumerably diversified; and, doubtless, there are many birds as beautiful, and wonderfully more so than this, whose escape you so much regret." "It may be so," replied the prince; "but unless I shall be able to take this, which has so captivated my fancy, I will abstain from food."
On the following morning the prince repaired again to the chase, and having reached the same spot on the plain, to his great joy beheld the green bird. Having taken a cautious aim, he let fly an arrow; but she evaded it, and soared before him in the air. The prince spurred his courser and followed, keeping his desired prey in sight unceasingly till sunset; when both himself and his horse being exhausted he gave up the pursuit, and returned towards the city. As he was riding slowly, and almost fainting with hunger and fatigue, there met him a venerable looking personage, who said, "Prince, both thyself and thy charger seem exhausted; what can have been the cause of such over exercise?" "Father," answered the prince, "I have been pursuing, but in vain, a beautiful green bird, on which I had set my mind." "Son," replied the sage, "if thou wert to follow it for a whole year's journey, thy pursuit would be useless; for thou couldst never take it. This bird comes from a city in the country of Kafoor, in which are most delightful gardens abounding in such birds as this, and many other species still more beautiful, some of which sing enchantingly, and others talk like human beings; but, alas thou canst never reach that happy spot. Give up then all thoughts of the bird, and seek some other objeft for a favourite that thou mayst enjoy repose, and no longer vex thyself for impossibilities." When the prince heard this from the old man, he exclaimed, "By Allah! nothing shall prevent me from visiting the charming country thou hast mentioned;" and leaving the sage, he rode homewards, his mind wholly taken up in meditating on the land of Kafoor.
When the prince had reached the palace, the sultan perceiving his disordered state, inquired the adventures of the day; and being informed of his fruitless pursuit, and the remarks of the old man, said, "My son, discharge this idle chimera from thy mind, nor perplex thyself longer, since he who wishes for an impossibility may pine himself to death, but can never gain his desires: calm then thy soul, nor vex thyself longer in vain." "By Allah!" answered the prince, "my soul, O my father, is captivated with the desire of possessing this bird more strongly than ever, from the words of the venerable old man; nor is it possible I can enjoy repose till I have travelled to the island of Kafoor, and beheld the gardens containing such a wonderful feathered species." "Alas! my dear son," exclaimed the sultan, "think how afflicting must be to myself and thy mother thy absence from our sight, and for our sakes give up such a fruitless expedition."
The prince, notwithstanding the remonstrances of his father, continued obstinate, and said, "My travelling is inevitable: grant me then permission, or I will put myself to death." "If so," exclaimed the affrighted sultan, "there is no refuge or help but from the omnipotent Allah: well has the proverb remarked, that the nestling would not be restrained from the air, when suddenly the raven pounced upon it and bore it away. Heaven guard my son from the consequences of his imprudence." Having said thus, the sultan commanded preparations for the requisites of travel, and ordered a force to accompany the headstrong prince; who, having taken leave of his afflicted parents, began his expedition towards the country of Kafoor.
The prince pursued his journey without any extraordinary adventure for a whole month, and at the expiration of it arrived at a spot from which branched out three roads. At the junction of them was erected a lofty pyramid, each face fronting one of the roads. On one face was inscribed, "This is named the Path of Safety:" on the second, "This is called the Way of Repentance:" and on the third, "Whoever follows this road will not probably return." "I will pursue this last," said the prince to himself, and accordingly striking into it, proceeded onwards for twenty days, at the end of which he encamped near a desolated city, crumbling into ruin, wholly destitute of inhabitants. He commanded his attendants, as no provisions could be found in the city, to kill five sheep of the flocks he had brought with him, and dress them for their refreshment in various ways. When all were ready, and the simmaut was spread out, having performed his ablutions, he sat down with his principal followers.
The prince and his company had scarcely seated themselves, when, lo! there advanced from the desolated city a Genie, whom the prince seeing, stood up, and thus accosted, "Hail! and welcome to the sovereign of the Aoon, friendly to his brethren, and ruler of this extensive desert." He then addressed him, flatteringly, in fluent language and eloquent expression. The hair of this Oone Genie hung shaggily over his eyes, and flowed in matted tresses upon his shoulders. The prince took out a pair of scissors, and having condescendingly cut his hair, pared his nails, and washed him, seated him at the cloth, and placed before him the dish dressed peculiarly for himself.
The Oone ate, and was delighted with the affability of the prince, whom he addressed, saying, "By Allah, O Mahummud, son of a sultan! I am doomed to death by thy arrival here; but what, my lord, was thy object in coming?" Upon this the prince informed him of his having seen the bird, his vain attempts to take her, the account he had received from the old man, and his resolution, in consequence of his information, to penetrate to the kingdom of Kafoor, to visit the gardens, and bring away some of the wonderful birds.
When the Oone heard this, he said, "O son of a sultan, that country to thee is impenetrable, thou canst not reach it; for the distance from hence is a journey of three hundred years to the most laborious traveller; how then canst thou hope to arrive at it, much more return? But, my son, the good old proverb remarks, that kindness should be returned with kindness, and evil with evil, and that none are so cruel or so benevolent as the inhabitants of the desert. As thou hast treated me kindly, so, God willing, shalt thou have a return for thy goodness; but thou must leave here thy attendants and thy effects. Thou and I only will go together, and I will accomplish thy wish in gratitude for what thou hast done for me." The prince immediately retired from his encampment with the Oone, who said, "Mount upon my shoulders."
The prince obeyed the commands of the Oone, who having first stopped his rider's ears with cotton, mounted into the air, and after soaring for some hours descended; when the prince found himself in the island of Kafoor, and near the desired garden. Having alighted from the shoulders of the generous Oone, he examined the spot, beheld groves, blooming shrubs, flowers bordering clear streams, and beautiful birds chanting various melodies. The Oone said, "Behold the object, of thy search, enter the garden!" Upon this the prince left him, passed the gate, which was open, and entered. He walked on every quarter, and depending from the branches of flowering shrubs saw cages holding a variety of beautiful birds, two birds in each cage.
The prince took down a large cage, and having examined the birds, placed in it such as pleased him to the number of six, with which he was preparing to leave the garden; when at the gate a watchman met him, who cried out loudly, "A robber! a robber!" Instantly numerous guards rushing out, seized the prince, bound, and carried him before the sultan, to whom they complained, saying, "We found in the garden this young man, carrying off a cage with six birds. He must certainly be a robber."
The sultan addressed the prince, saying, "What induced thee, youthful stranger, to violate my property, trespass on the garden, and attempt stealing these birds?" The prince returned no answer: upon which the sultan exclaimed, "Young man, thou art verging upon death; yet still, if thy soul is bent upon having these birds, bring me from the Black Island some bunches of grapes, which are composed of emeralds and diamonds, and I will give thee six birds in addition to those thou hast stolen." Having said this, the sultan released the prince, who repaired to his generous friend the Oone, whom he informed of the unlucky conclusion of his adventure. "Our task is an easy one," answered the Oone; "mount upon my shoulders."
The prince did as he was desired, and after two hours flight the Oone descended and alighted, when the prince found himself in the Black Island. He immediately advanced towards the garden in which was the fruit composed of emeralds and diamonds. On the way a monster met him of terrible appearance.
The monster sprung at the prince, who, with surprising agility, drawing his sword, wounded the furious beast on the forehead with such effect, that, uttering a dreadful groan, he fell dead at his feet. It happened, by divine decree, that the sultan's daughter looking from a window of the haram, beheld the combat, and, stricken with the manly beauty and prowess of the prince, exclaimed, "Who can withstand thy courage, or who resist thy all conquering charms?" But he did not see the princess, or hear her applause.
The prince, after having slain the monster, proceeded to the garden, the gate of which he found open, and on entering, perceived variety of artificial trees composed of precious stones. Among them was one resembling the vine, the fruits of which were of emeralds and diamonds. He plucked off six bunches, and was quitting the garden when a sentinel met him; who, being alarmed, cried out, "A robber! a robber!" The guards rushed out, and having bound him, carried him before the sultan, saying, "My lord, we found this youth stealing the fruit from the garden of jewels."
The sultan was enraged, and on the point of ordering him to be put to death, when a number of persons entered, crying out, "Good tidings to our sovereign." "On what account?" exclaimed the sultan. "The horrible monster," replied they, "who used annually to appear and devour our sons and daughters, we have just now found dead and cloven in two." The sultan was so rejoiced at this happy event, that he refrained from the blood of the prince, and exclaimed, "Whoever has destroyed this monster let him come to me, and I swear by Allah, who has invested me with royalty, that I will give him my daughter in marriage; and whatever else he may desire, even to the half of my empire."
Upon the sultan's declaration being proclaimed, several young men appeared, pretending that they had killed the monster, and gave various accounts of the combat, which made the prince smile. "By Allah! it is strange," said the sultan, "that a youth in such a perilous situation should be so unconcerned as to smile." While the sultan was ruminating on this occurrence, a eunuch entered from the haram, requesting that he would come and speak to the princess his daughter, who had business of importance to communicate; upon which the sultan arose, and retired from the hall of audience.
When the sultan had entered the princess's apartment, he said, "What can have happened which has occasioned you to send for me so suddenly?" She replied, "Is it thy wish to know who slew the monster, and to reward the courageous hero?" "By Allah," answered the sultan, "who created subjects and their sovereigns, if I can discover him, my first offer to him shall be to espouse thee, whatever be his condition, or though he dwell in the most distant region." The princess rejoined, "No one slew the monster but the youth who entered the garden of gems, and was bearing off the fruit, whom thou wast just now on the point of putting to death."
When the sultan heard the above from his daughter, he returned to the divan, and calling the prince before him, said, "Young man, I grant thee thy pardon; art thou he who destroyed the monster?" "I am," replied the prince. The sultan would instantly have summoned the cauzee to perform the espousals; but the prince said, "I have a friend to consult; permit me to retire, and I will soon return." The sultan consented, saying, "Thy request is but reasonable; but come back quickly." The prince having repaired to his friend the Oone, informed him of what had happened to him, and of the offer of the sultan's daughter in marriage: upon which the Oone said, "Accept the princess; but on condition that, if you marry her, you shall be allowed to carry her to your own kingdom." The prince having returned to the sultan, proposed his terms, which were readily agreed to, and the nuptials were celebrated with the most splendid magnificence. After abiding in the palace of the sultan for a month and three days, he requested permission to depart with his bride towards his own country, which was granted.
On the departure of the prince, his father-in-law presented him with a hundred bunches of the grapes composed of emeralds and diamonds, and he repaired to his friend the Oone; who, having first stopped their ears with cotton, mounted them upon his shoulders, and soaring into the air, after two hours descended near the capital of the island of Kafoor. The prince, taking four bunches of the jewelled fruit, hastened to the palace, and laid them before the sultan; who, in astonishment, exclaimed, "Surely, this young stranger must be a powerful magician, or how could he have travelled the distance of three hundred years' journey, and have accomplished his purpose in less time than three months! Such an action is truly miraculous. Hast thou, indeed, young man," said the sultan, "been at the Black Island?" "I have," answered the prince. "Describe it to me," replied the sultan, "its appearance, its buildings, its gardens, and rivers." The prince having answered all his queries, the sultan said, "Noble youth, you may assuredly ask of me whatever you wish!" "I want nothing but the birds," rejoined the prince. "They are thine," returned the sultan; "but annually on a certain day, and this is it, there descends from yonder mountain a monstrous vulture, which tears in pieces our men, women, and children; and having flown away with them in his gigantic talons devours their flesh. I have a beautiful daughter, whom, if thou canst overcome this calamitous monster, I will give to thee in marriage."
The prince replied, "I will consult my friend;" and then returned to the Oone, whom he informed of the offer; but he had scarcely done speaking, when, lo! the vulture appeared: upon which the Oone, ascending into the air, attacked the monster, and after a fierce combat, tore him into halves; after which he descended to the prince, and said, "Go to the sultan, and acquaint him that his destructive enemy is slain."
The prince did as he was directed: upon which the sultan with his train, and an immense crowd of the inhabitants of the city, came out on horseback, and beheld the monstrous vulture, stretched dead on the ground, torn in halves. The sultan then conducted the prince of Hind to the palace; where his marriage with the princess was instantly celebrated, amid the highest festivity and rejoicings; and after remaining a full month at the sultan's court, he requested leave to depart; when his father-in-law presented him with ten cages, in each of which were four of the beautiful birds of variously coloured plumage, and dismissed him, after an affectionate farewell, with his daughter.
The prince having departed from the sultan repaired to his faithful friend the Oone, who welcomed his return; and having mounted him upon his back with his two brides, his jewel fruit, and the cages, immediately ascended into the air, from whence, after soaring for some hours, he gradually descended, and alighted near the ruined city, where the prince had left his tents, cattle, and followers, whom he found anxiously expecting his arrival. The friendly Oone had scarcely set him down, when he said to the prince, "My young friend Mahummud, the obligation already conferred upon me by thy coming here was great; but I have one more favour to request." "What can that be?" replied the prince. "That thou leave not this spot," continued the Oone, "until thou hast washed my corpse, enshrouded, and laid it in the grave." Having said thus, the Oone suddenly uttered one loud groan, and instantly his soul took its flight from the body. The astonished prince stood for some time overpowered with sorrow; but at length recovering himself, he, with the assistance of his domestics, washed the corpse, wrapped it in a winding sheet, and having prayed over it, deposited it in the earth.
The funeral ceremonies of his friend being over, he commenced his march homewards, and after three days arrived in sight of the inscribed pyramid, near which he perceived an extensive encampment, which, on reconnoitring, he found to be that of his father. The aged sultan, unable to bear the absence of his son, had marched from his capital in hopes of overtaking him; but on his arrival at the junction of the three ways, being confounded at the sight of the inscriptions, he had halted, not knowing where to proceed. Great was his joy on discovering the prince advancing towards that face of the pyramid on which was engraved, "Whoever travels this road will probably never return." When the raptures of meeting and mutual congratulations were over, the prince informed the sultan of his wonderful and successful adventures, which overpowered him with astonishment and joy. After reposing a few days, they proceeded towards the capital of the sultan; where tidings having arrived of their approach, the inhabitants ornamented the city with silks, carpets, and transparent paintings; and the nobles and respectable persons issued forth with splendid trains to meet and congratulate their sovereign and the prince, who entered in triumphal procession, amid the greatest rejoicings and prayers for their welfare and prosperity.