[Go back to Beder, Prince of Persia, and Jehaunara, Prince of Samandal, or Summunder]
A sultan of Bussorah, who possessed great wealth, and was well beloved by his subjects, had no children, which occasioned him great affliction; and therefore he made presents to all the holy persons in his dominions, to engage them to beg a son for him of Heaven: and their prayers being effectual, the queen proved with child, and was happily delivered of a prince who was named Zeyn Alasnam, which signifies Ornament of the Statues.
The sultan caused all the astrologers in his kingdom to be assembled, and ordered them to calculate the infant's nativity. They found by their observations that he would live long, and be very brave; but that all his courage would be little enough to carry him through the misfortunes that threatened him. The sultan was not daunted at this prediction: "My son," said he, "is not to be pitied, since he will be brave: it is fit that princes should have a taste of misfortunes; for adversity tries virtue, and they are the better qualified to reign."
He rewarded the astrologers, and dismissed them; and caused Zeyn to be educated with the greatest care, appointing him able masters as soon as he was of age to receive their instructions. In short, he proposed to make him an accomplished prince, when on a sudden this good sultan fell sick of a disorder, which all the skill of his physicians could not cure. Perceiving his disease was mortal, he sent for his son, and among other things advised him rather to endeavour to be loved, than to be feared by his people; not to give ear to flatterers; to be as slow in rewarding as in punishing, because it often happens that monarchs misled by false appearances, load wicked men with favours, and oppress the innocent.
As soon as the sultan was dead, prince Zeyn went into mourning, which he wore seven days, and on the eighth he ascended the throne, taking his father's seal off the royal treasury, and putting on his own, beginning thus to taste the sweets of ruling, the pleasure of seeing all his courtiers bow down before him, and make it their whole study to shew their zeal and obedience. In a word, the sovereign power was too agreeable to him. He only regarded what his subjects owed to him, without considering what was his duty towards them, and consequently took little care to govern them well. He revelled in all sorts of debauchery among the voluptuous youth, on whom he conferred the prime employments in the kingdom. He lost all command of his power. Being naturally prodigal, he set no bounds to his grants, so that his women and his favourites insensibly drained his treasury.
The queen his mother was still living, a discreet, wise princess. She had several times unsuccessfully tried to check her son's prodigality and debauchery, giving him to understand, that, if he did not soon take another course, he would not only squander his wealth, but also alienate the minds of his people, and occasion some revolution, which perhaps might cost him his crown and his life. What she had predicted had nearly happened: the people began to murmur against the government, and their murmurs had certainly been followed by a general revolt, had not the queen had the address to prevent it. That princess being acquainted with the ill posture of affairs, informed the sultan, who at last suffered himself to be prevailed upon. He committed the government to discreet aged men, who knew how to keep the people within the bounds of duty.
Zeyn, seeing all his wealth consumed, repented that he had made no better use of it. He fell into a profound melancholy, and nothing could comfort him. One night he saw in a dream a venerable old man coming towards him, who with a smiling countenance said, "Know, Zeyn, that there is no sorrow but what is followed by mirth, no misfortune but what in the end brings some happiness. If you desire to see the end of your affliction, set out for Egypt, go to Grand Cairo, where great prosperity awaits you."
The young sultan was struck with his dream, and spoke of it very seriously to his mother, who only laughed at it. "My son," said she to him, "would you go into Egypt on the faith of an illusive dream?" "Why not, madam," answered Zeyn, "do you imagine all dreams are chimerical? No, no, some of them are mysterious. My preceptors have told me a thousand incidents, which will not permit me to doubt of it. Besides, though I were not otherwise convinced, I could not forbear giving some credit to my dreams. The old man who appeared to me had something supernatural, he was not one of those men whom nothing but age makes venerable; there appeared a divine air about his person. In short, he was such a one as our great prophet is represented; and if you will have me tell you what I think, I believe it was he, who, pitying my affliction, designs to relieve it. I rely on the confidence he has inspired me with. I am full of his promises, and have resolved to follow his advice." The queen endeavoured to dissuade him, but in vain. The sultan committed to her the government of the kingdom, set out one night very privately from his palace, and took the road to Cairo, without suffering any person to attend him.
After much trouble and fatigue, he arrived at that famous city, like which there are few in the world, either for extent or beauty. He alighted at the gate of a mosque, where, being spent with weariness, he lay down. No sooner was he fallen asleep, than he saw the same old man, who said to him, "I am pleased with you, my son, you have given credit to my words. You are come hither, without being deterred by the length or the difficulties of the way: but know I have not put you upon undertaking such a long journey, with any other design than to try you. I find you have courage and resolution. You deserve I should make you the richest and happiest prince in the world. Return to Bussorah, and you shall find immense wealth in your palace. No king ever possessed so rich a treasure."
The sultan was not pleased with this dream. "Alas!" thought he to himself, when he awoke, "how much was I mistaken? That old man, whom I took for our prophet, is no other than the production of my disturbed imagination. My fancy was so full of him, that it is no wonder I have seen him again. I had best return to Bussorah; what should I do here any longer? It is fortunate that I told none but my mother the motive of my journey: I should become a jest to my people, if they knew it."
Accordingly, he set out again for his kingdom, and as soon as he arrived there, the queen asked him, whether he returned well pleased? He told her all that had happened, and was so much concerned for having been so credulous, that the queen, instead of adding to his vexation, by reproving or laughing at him, comforted him. "Forbear afflicting yourself, my son," said she; "if God has appointed you riches, you will have them without any trouble. Be contented; all that I recommend to you is, to be virtuous; renounce the delights of dancing, music, and wine: shun all these pleasures, they have already almost ruined you; apply yourself to make your subjects happy; by securing their happiness, you will establish your own."
Sultan Zeyn vowed that he would for the future follow his mother's advice, and be directed by the wise viziers she had chosen to assist him in supporting the weight of government. But the very night after he returned to his palace, he saw the old man the third time in a dream, who said to him, "The time of your prosperity is come, brave Zeyn: to-morrow morning, as soon as you are up, take a little pick-axe, and dig in the late sultan's closet; you will there find a rich treasure."
As soon as the sultan awoke, he got up, ran to the queen's apartment, and with much eagerness told her the new dream of that night. "Really, my son," said the queen smiling, "this is a very positive old man; he is not satisfied with having deceived you twice: have you a mind to believe him again?" "No, madam," answered Zeyn, "I give no credit to what he has said; but I will, for my own satisfaction, search my father's closet." "I really fancied so," cried the queen, laughing heartily: "go, my son, satisfy yourself; my comfort is, that work is not so fatiguing as the journey to Egypt."
"Well madam," answered the sultan, "I must own, that this third dream has restored my confidence, for it is connected with the two others; let us examine the old man's words. He first directed me to go into Egypt; there he told me, he had put me upon taking that journey, only to try me. 'Return to Bussorah,' said he, 'that is the place where you are to find treasures;' this night he has exactly pointed out to me the place where they are: these three dreams in my opinion, are connected. After all, they may be chimerical: but I would rather search in vain, than blame myself as long as I live, for having perhaps missed great riches, by being unseasonably incredulous."
Having spoken thus, he left the queen's apartment, caused a pick-axe to be brought him, and went alone into the late sultan's closet. He immediately began to break up the ground, and took up above half the square stones it was paved with, but yet saw not the least appearance of what he sought. He ceased working to take a little rest, thinking within himself, "I am much afraid my mother had cause enough to laugh at me." However, he took heart, and went on with his labour, nor had he cause to repent; for on a sudden he discovered a white slab, which he took up, and under it found a door, made fast with a steel padlock, which he broke with the pick-axe, and opened the door, which covered a staircase of white marble. He immediately lighted a lamp, and went down the stairs into a room, the floor whereof was laid with tiles of chinaware, and the roof and walls were of crystal; but he particularly fixed his eyes on four shelves, a little raised above the rest of the floor, on each of which were ten urns of porphyry. He fancied they were full of wine: "Well," said he, "that wine must be very old, I do not question but it is excellent." He went up to one of the urns, took off the cover, and with no less joy than surprise perceived it was full of pieces of gold. He searched all the forty, one after another, and found them full of the same coin, took out a handful, and carried it to the queen.
The princess, it may be imagined, was amazed, when the sultan gave her an account of what he had discovered. "O! my son," said she, "take heed you do not lavish away all this wealth foolishly, as you have already done the royal treasure. Let not your enemies have so much occasion to rejoice." "No, madam," answered Zeyn, "I will from henceforward live in such a manner as shall be pleasing to you."
The queen desired her son to conduct her to the wonderful subterraneous place, which the late sultan her husband had made with such secrecy, that she had never heard of it. Zeyn led her to the closet, down the marble stairs, and into the chamber where the urns were. She observed every thing with the eye of curiosity, and in a corner spied a little urn of the same sort of stone as the others. The prince had not before taken notice of it, but opening, found in it a golden key. "My son," said the queen, "this key certainly belongs to some other treasure; let us search well, perhaps we may discover the use it is designed for."
They examined the chamber with the utmost exactness, and at length found a key-hole in one of the panels of the wall. The sultan immediately tried, and as readily opened the door, which led into a chamber, in the midst of which were nine pedestals of massive gold, on eight of which stood as many statues, each of them made of a single diamond, and from them darted such a brightness, that the whole room was perfectly light.
"O Heavens!" cried Zeyn, in astonishment, "where could my father find such rarities?" The ninth pedestal redoubled this amazement, for it was covered with a piece of white satin, on which were written these words, "Dear son, it cost me much toil to procure these eight statues; but though they are extraordinarily beautiful, you must understand that there is a ninth in the world, which surpasses them all: that alone is worth more than a thousand such as these: if you desire to be master of it, go to the city of Cairo in Egypt; one of my old slaves, whose name is Mobarec, lives there, you will easily find him; the first person you meet will shew you his house; visit him, and tell him all that has befallen you: he will know you to be my son, and conduct you to the place where that wonderful statue is, which you will obtain with safety."
The young sultan having read these words, said to the queen, "I should be sorry to be without that ninth statue; it must certainly be a very rare piece, since all these together are not of so much value. I will set out for Grand Cairo; nor do I believe, madam, that you will now oppose my design." "No, my son," answered the queen, "I am not against it: you are certainly under the special protection of our great prophet, he will not suffer you to perish in this journey. Set out when you think fit: your viziers and I will take care of the government during your absence." The prince made ready his equipage, but would take only a small number of slaves with him.
Nothing remarkable befell him by the way, but arriving at Cairo, he inquired for Mobarec. The people told him he was one of the wealthiest inhabitants of the city; that he lived like a great lord, and that his house was open, especially for strangers. Zeyn was conducted thither, knocked at the gate, which a slave opened, and demanded, "What is it you want, and who are you?" "I am a stranger," answered the prince, "and having heard much of the lord Mobarec's generosity, am come to take up my lodging with him." The slave desired Zeyn to wait while he went to acquaint his master, who ordered him to request the stranger to walk in. The slave returned to the gate, and told the prince he was welcome.
Zeyn went in, crossed a large court, and entered a hall magnificently furnished, where Mobarec expected him, and received him very courteously, returning thanks for the honour he did him in accepting a lodging in his house. The prince, having answered his compliment, said to Mobarec, "I am the son of the late sultan of Bussorah, and my name is Zeyn Alasnam." "That sovereign," said Mobarec, "was formerly my master; but, my lord, I never knew of any children he had: what is your age?" "I am twenty years old," answered the sultan. "How long is it since you left my father's court?" "Almost two-and-twenty years," replied Mobarec; "but how can you convince me that you are his son?" "My father," rejoined Zeyn, "had a subterraneous place under his closet, in which I have found forty porphyry urns full of gold." "And what more is there?" said Mobarec. "There are," answered the prince, "nine pedestals of massive gold: on eight whereof are as many diamond statues; and on the ninth a piece of white satin, on which my father has written what I am to do to procure another statue, more valuable than all those together. You know where that statue is; for it is mentioned on the satin, that you will conduct me to it."
As soon as he had spoke these words, Mobarec fell down at his feet, and kissing one of his hands several times, said, "I bless God for having brought you hither: I know you to be the sultan of Bussorah's son. If you will go to the place where the wonderful statue is, I will conduct you; but you must first rest here a few days. This day I treat the great men of the court; we were at table when word was brought me of your being at the door. Will you vouchsafe to come and be merry with us?" "I shall be very glad," replied Zeyn, "to be admitted to your feast." Mobarec immediately led him under a dome where the company was, seated him at the table, and served him on the knee. The nobles of Cairo were surprised, and whispered to one another, "Who is this stranger, to whom Mobarec pays so much respect?"
When they had dined, Mobarec directing his discourse to the company, said, "Nobles of Cairo, do not think much to see me serve this young stranger in this manner: know that he is the son of the sultan of Bussorah, my master. His father purchased me, and died without making me free; so that I am still a slave, and consequently all I have of right belongs to this young prince, his sole heir." Here Zeyn interrupted him: "Mobarec," said he, "I declare, before all these lords, that I make you free from this moment, and that I renounce all right to your person, and all you possess. Consider what you would have me do more for you." Mobarec kissed the ground, and returned the prince most hearty thanks. Wine was then brought in, they drank all day, and towards evening presents were distributed among the guests, who departed.
The next day Zeyn said to Mobarec, "I have taken rest enough. I came not to Cairo to take my pleasure; my design is to obtain the ninth statue; it is time for us to set out in search of it." "Sir," said Mobarec, "I am ready to comply with your desires; but you know not what dangers you must encounter to make this precious acquisition." "Whatsoever the danger may be," answered the prince, "I have resolved to make the attempt; I will either perish or succeed. All that happens in this world is by God's direction. Do you but bear me company, and let your resolution be equal to mine."
Mobarec, finding him determined to set out, called his servants, and ordered them to make ready his equipage. The prince and he then performed the ablution, and the prayer enjoined, which is called Farz; and that done, they set out. On their way they took notice of abundance of strange and wonderful things, and travelled many days, at length, being come to a delightful spot, they alighted from their horses. Mobarec then said to all the servants that attended them, "Do you remain in this place, and take care of our equipage till we return." Then he said to Zeyn, "Now, sir, let us advance by ourselves. We are near the dreadful place, where the ninth statue is kept. You will stand in need of all your courage."
They soon came to a vast lake: Mobarec set down on the brink of it, saying to the prince, "We must cross this sea." "How can we," answered Zeyn, "when we have no boat?" "You will see one appear in a moment," replied Mobarec; "the enchanted boat of the sultan of the genii will come for us. But do not forget what I am going to say to you: you must observe a profound silence: do not speak to the boatman, though his figure seem strange to you: whatever extraordinary circumstance you observe, say nothing; for I tell you beforehand, that if you utter one word when we are embarked, the boat will sink." "I shall take care to hold my peace," said the prince; "you need only tell me what I am to do, and I will strictly comply."
Whilst they were talking, he spied on a sudden a boat in the lake, made of red sandal wood. It had a mast of fine amber, and a blue satin flag: there was only one boatman in it, whose head was like an elephant's, and his body like that of a tiger. When the boat was come up to the prince and Mobarec, the monstrous boatman took them up one after another with his trunk, put them into his boat, and carried them over the lake in a moment. He then again took them up with his trunk, set them ashore, and immediately vanished with his boat.
"Now we may talk," said Mobarec: "the island we are in belongs to the sultan of the genii. Look round you, prince; can there be a more delightful spot? It is certainly a lively representation of the charming place God has appointed for the faithful observers of our law. Behold the fields adorned with all sorts of flowers and odoriferous plants: admire those beautiful trees whose delicious fruit makes the branches bend down to the ground; enjoy the pleasure of those harmonious songs formed in the air by a thousand birds of as many various sorts, unknown in other countries." Zeyn could not sufficiently admire the beauties with which he was surrounded, and still found something new, as he advanced farther into the island.
At length they came before a palace built of emeralds, encompassed by a wide moat, on the banks whereof, at certain distances, were planted such tall trees, that they shaded the whole palace. Before the gate, which was of massive gold, was a bridge, formed of one single shell of a fish, though it was at least six fathoms long, and three in breadth. At the head of the bridge stood a company of genii, of a prodigious height, who guarded the entrance into the castle with great clubs of China steel.
"Let us at present proceed no farther," said Mobarec, "these genii will destroy us: and in order to prevent their coming to us, we must perform a magical ceremony." He then drew out of a purse which he had under his garment, four long slips of yellow taffety; one he put about his middle, and laid the other on his back, giving the other two to the prince, who did the like. Then Mobarec laid on the ground two large table-cloths, on the edges whereof he scattered some precious stones, musk, and amber. Afterwards he sat down on one of the cloths, and Zeyn on the other; and Mobarec said to the prince, "I shall now, sir, conjure the sultan of the genii, who lives in the palace that is before us; may he come in a peaceable mood to us! I confess I am not without apprehension about the reception he may give us. If our coming into this island is displeasing to him, he will appear in the shape of a dreadful monster; but if he approves of your design, he will shew himself in the shape of a handsome man. As soon as he appears before us, you must rise and salute him, without going off your cloth; for you would certainly perish, should you stir from it. You must say to him, 'Sovereign lord of the genii, my father, who was your servant, has been taken away by the angel of death; I wish your majesty may protect me, as you always protected my father.' If the sultan of the genii," added Mobarec, "ask you what favour you desire of him, you must answer, 'I most humbly beg of you to give me the ninth statue.'"
Mobarec, having thus instructed prince Zeyn, began his conjuration. Immediately their eyes were dazzled by a long flash of lightning, which was followed by a clap of thunder. The whole island was covered with a thick darkness, a furious storm of wind blew, a dreadful cry was heard, the island felt a shock, and there was such an earthquake, as that which Asrayel is to cause on the day of judgment.
Zeyn was startled, and began to regard these concussions of the elements as a very ill omen, when Mobarec, who knew better than he what to judge, began to smile, and said, "Take courage, my prince, all goes well." In short, that very moment, the sultan of the genii appeared in the shape of a very handsome man, yet there was something of a sternness in his air.
As soon as sultan Zeyn had made him the compliment he had been taught by Mobarec, the sultan of the genii smiling, answered, "My son, I loved your father, and every time he came to pay me his respects, I presented him with a statue, which he carried away with him. I have no less kindness for you. I obliged your father, some days before he died, to write that which you read on the piece of white satin. I promised him to receive you under my protection, and to give you the ninth statue, which in beauty surpasses those you have already. I had begun to perform my promise to him. It was I whom you saw in a dream in the shape of an old man; I caused you to open the subterraneous place, where the urns and the statues are deposited: I have a great share in all that has befallen you, or rather am the occasion of all. I know the motive that brought you hither; you shall obtain what you desire. Though I had not promised your father to give it, I would willingly grant it to you: but you must first swear to me by all that is sacred, that you will return to this island, and that you will bring me a maid who is in her fifteenth year, has never loved, nor desired to. She must also be perfectly beautiful: and you so much a master of yourself, as not even to desire her as you are conducting her hither."
Sultan Zeyn took the rash oath demanded of him. "But, my lord," said he, "suppose I should be so fortunate as to meet with such a maid as you require, how shall I know that I have found her?" "I own," answered the sultan of the genii, smiling, "that you might be mistaken in her appearance: that knowledge is above the sons of Adam, and therefore I do not mean to depend upon your judgment in that particular: I will give you a looking-glass which will be more certain than your conjectures. When you shall have seen a maiden fifteen years of age, perfectly beautiful, you need only look into the glass in which you shall see her figure. If she be chaste, the glass will remain clean and unsullied; but if, on the contrary, it sullies, that will be a certain sign that she has not always been prudent, or at least that she has desired to cease to be so. Do not forget the oath you have taken: keep it like a man of honour; otherwise I will take away your life, notwithstanding the kindness I have for you." Zeyn Alasnam protested again that he would faithfully keep his word. The sultan of the genii then delivered to him a looking-glass, saying, "My son, you may return when you please, there is the glass you are to use." Zeyn and Mobarec took leave of the sultan of the genii, and went towards the lake. The boatman with the elephant's head brought the boat, and ferried them over the lake as he had done before. They joined their servants, and returned with them again to Cairo.
The young sultan rested a few days at Mobarec's house, and then said to him, "Let us go to Bagdad, to seek a maiden for the sovereign of the genii." "Why, are we not at Grand Cairo?" said Mobarec: "shall we not there find beautiful maidens?" "You are in the right," answered the prince; "but how shall we explore where they are?" "Do not trouble yourself about that," answered Mobarec; "I know a very shrewd old woman, whom I will entrust with the affair, and she will acquit herself well."
Accordingly the old woman found means to shew the sultan a considerable number of beautiful maidens of fifteen years of age; but when he had viewed them, and came to consult his looking-glass, the fatal touchstone of their virtue, the glass always appeared sullied. All the maidens in the court and city, who were in their fifteenth year, underwent the trial one after another, but the glass never remained bright and clear.
When they saw there were no chaste maidens to be found in Cairo, they went to Bagdad, where they hired a magnificent palace in one of the chief quarters of the city, and began to live splendidly. They kept open house; and after all people had eaten in the palace, the fragments were carried to the dervises, who by that means had comfortable subsistence.
There lived in that quarter a pedant, whose name was Boubekir Muezin, a vain, haughty, and envious person: he hated the rich, only because he was poor, his misery making him angry at his neighbour's prosperity. He heard talk of Zeyn Alasnam, and of the plenty his house afforded. This was enough for him to take an aversion to that prince; and it proceeded so far, that one day after the evening prayer in the mosque, he said to the people, "Brethren, I have been told there is come to live in our ward a stranger, who every day gives away immense sums. How do we know but that this unknown person is some villain, who has committed a robbery in his own country, and comes hither to enjoy himself? Let us take care, brethren; if the caliph should be informed that such a man is in our ward, it is to be feared he will punish us for not acquainting him with it. I declare for my part I wash my hands of the affair, and if any thing should happen amiss, it shall not lie at my door." The multitude, who are easily led away, with one voice cried to Boubekir, "It is your business, do you acquaint the council with it." The muezin went home well pleased, and drew up a memorial, resolving to present it to the caliph next day.
But Mobarec, who had been at prayers, and heard all that was said by the muezin, put five hundred pieces of gold into a handkerchief, made up with a parcel of several silks, and went to Boubekir's house. The muezin asked him in a harsh tone what he wanted. "Holy father," answered Mobarec with an obliging air, and at the same time putting into his hand the gold and the silk, "I am your neighbour and your servant: I come from prince Zeyn, who lives in this ward: he has heard of your worth, and has ordered me to come and tell you, that he desires to be acquainted with you, and in the mean time desires you to accept of this small present." Boubekir was transported with joy, and answered Mobarec thus: "Be pleased, sir, to beg the prince's pardon for me: I am ashamed I have not yet been to see him, but I will atone for my fault, and wait on him to-morrow."
Accordingly the next day after morning prayer he said to the people, "You must know from your own experience, brethren, that no man is without some enemies: envy pursues those chiefly who are very rich. The stranger I spoke to you about yesterday in the evening is no bad man, as some ill-designing persons would have persuaded me: he is a young prince, endowed with every virtue. It behoves us to take care how we give any injurious report of him to the caliph."
Boubekir having thus wiped off the impression he had the day before given the people concerning Zeyn, returned home, put on his best apparel and went to visit the young prince, who gave him a courteous reception. After several compliments had passed on both sides, Boubekir said to the prince, "Sir, do you design to stay long at Bagdad?" "I shall stay," answered Zeyn, "till I can find a maid fifteen years of age, perfectly beautiful, and so chaste, that she has not only never loved a man, but even never desired to do so." "You seek after a great rarity," replied the muezin; "and I should be apt to fear your search would prove unsuccessful, did I not know where there is a maid of that character. Her father was formerly vizier; but has left the court, and lived a long time in a lone house, where he applies himself solely to the education of his daughter. If you please, I will ask her of him for you: I do not question but he will be overjoyed to have a son-in-law of your quality." "Not so fast," said the prince, "I shall not marry the maid before I know whether I like her. As for her beauty, I can depend on you; but what assurance can you give me in relation to her virtue?" "What assurance do you require?" said Boubekir. "I must see her face," answered Zeyn; "that is enough to determine my resolution." "You are skilled then in physiognomy?" replied the muezin, smiling. "Well, come along with me to her father's: I will desire him to let you see her one moment in his presence."
The muezin conducted the prince to the vizier's; who, as soon as he was acquainted with the prince's birth and design, called his daughter, and made her take off her veil. Never had the young sultan of Bussorah beheld such a perfect and striking beauty. He stood amazed; and since he could then try whether the maid was as chaste as fair, he pulled out his glass, which remained bright and unsullied.
When he perceived he had at length found such a person as he desired, he entreated the vizier to grant her to him. Immediately the cauzee was sent for, the contract signed, and the marriage prayer said. After this ceremony, Zeyn conducted the vizier to his house, where he treated him magnificently, and gave him considerable presents. Next day he sent a prodigious quantity of jewels by Mobarec, who conducted the bride home, where the wedding was kept with all the pomp that became Zeyn's quality. When all the company was dismissed Mobarec said to his master, "Let us begone, sir, let us not stay any longer at Bagdad, but return to Cairo: remember the promise you made the sultan of the genii." "Let us go," answered the prince; "I must take care to perform it exactly; yet I must confess, my dear Mobarec, that, if I obey the sultan of the genii, it is not without reluctance. The damsel I have married is so charming, that I am tempted to carry her to Bussorah, and place her on the throne." "Alas! sir," answered Mobarec, "take heed how you give way to your inclination: make yourself master of your passions, and whatever it costs you, be as good as your word to the sultan of the genii." "Well, then, Mobarec," said the prince, "do you take care to conceal the lovely maid from me; let her never appear in my sight; perhaps I have already seen too much of her."
Mobarec made all ready for their departure; they returned to Cairo, and thence set out for the island of the sultan of the genii. When they were arrived, the maid who had performed the journey in a horse-litter, and whom the prince had never seen since his wedding-day, said to Mobarec, "Where are we? Shall we be soon in the dominions of the prince my husband?" "Madam," answered Mobarec, "it is time to undeceive you. Prince Zeyn married you only in order to get you from your father: he did not engage his faith to make you sovereign of Bussorah, but to deliver you to the sultan of the genii, who has asked of him a virgin of your character." At these words, she began to weep bitterly, which moved the prince and Mobarec. "Take pity on me," said she; "I am a stranger, you will be accountable to God for your treachery towards me."
Her tears and complaints were of no effect, for she was presented to the sultan of the genii, who having gazed on her with attention, said to Zeyn, "Prince, I am satisfied with your behaviour; the virgin you have brought me is beautiful and chaste, and I am pleased with the restraint you have put upon yourself to be as good as your promise to me. Return to your dominions, and when you shall enter the subterraneous room, where the eight statues are, you shall find the ninth which I promised you. I will make my genii carry it thither." Zeyn thanked the sultan, and returned to Cairo with Mobarec, but did not stay long in Egypt, for his impatience to see the ninth statue made him hasten his departure. However, he could not but often think regretfully of the young virgin he had married; and blaming himself for having deceived her, he looked upon himself as the cause and instrument of her misfortune. "Alas!" said he to himself, "I have taken her from a tender father, to sacrifice her to a genie. O incomparable beauty! you deserve a better fate."
Sultan Zeyn, disturbed with these thoughts, at length reached Bussorah, where his subjects made extraordinary rejoicings for his return. He went directly to give an account of his journey to his mother, who was in a rapture to hear that he had obtained the ninth statue. "Let us go, my son," said she, "let us go and see it, for it is certainly in the subterraneous chamber, since the sultan of the genii told you you should find it there." The young sultan and his mother, being both impatient to see the wonderful statue, went down into the room of the statues; but how great was their surprise, when, instead of a statue of diamonds, they beheld on the ninth pedestal a most beautiful virgin, whom the prince knew to be the same whom he had conducted into the island of the genii! "Prince," said the young maid, "you are surprised to see me here; you expected to have found something more precious than me, and I question not but that you now repent having taken so much trouble: you expected a better reward." "Madam," answered Zeyn, "heaven is my witness, that I more than once had nearly broken my word with the sultan of the genii, to keep you to myself. Whatever be the value of a diamond statue, is it worth the satisfaction of having you mine? I love you above all the diamonds and wealth in the world."
Just as he had done speaking, a clap of thunder was heard, which shook the subterranean place. Zeyn's mother was alarmed, but the sultan of the genii immediately appearing, dispelled her fear. "Madam," said he to her, "I protect and love your son: I had a mind to try, whether, at his age, he could subdue his passions. I know the charms of this young lady have wrought on him, and that he did not punctually keep the promise he had made me, not to desire her; but I am well acquainted with the frailty of human nature. This is the ninth statue I designed for him; it is more rare and precious than the others. "Live," said he (directing his discourse to the young prince), "live happy, Zeyn, with this young lady, who is your wife; and if you would have her true and constant to you, love her always, and love her only. Give her no rival, and I will answer for her fidelity." Having spoken these words, the sultan of the genii vanished, and Zeyn, enchanted with the young lady, the same day caused her to be proclaimed queen of Bussorah, over which they reigned in mutual happiness to an advanced age.
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Scott, Jonathan (1754-1829). The Arabian Nights Entertainments. London: Pickering and Chatto, 1890. 4 Volumes. Project Gutenberg.
1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM