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Scott: The Adventure of the Caliph Haroon Al Rusheed (cont.)

[Go back to The Story of Baba Abdoollah]

The blind man having concluded his story, the caliph said, "Baba Abdoollah, your sin has been great; but God be praised, you feel the enormity of your guilt, and your penance proves your repentance. You must continue it, not ceasing to ask of God pardon in every prayer your religion obliges you to say daily: but that you may not be prevented from your devotions by the care of getting your living, I will settle a charity on you during your life, of four silver dirhems a day, which my grand vizier shall give you daily with the penance, therefore do not go away, but wait till he has executed my orders."

At these words, Baba Abdoollah prostrated himself before the caliph's throne, returned him thanks, and wished him all happiness and prosperity.

The caliph, very well satisfied with the story of Baba Abdoollah and the dervish, addressed himself to the young man who used his mare so ill, and asked him his name; to which he replied, it was Syed Naomaun.

"Syed Naomaun," resumed the caliph, "I have seen horses exercised all my life, and have often exercised them myself, but never in so barbarous a manner as you yesterday treated your mare in the full square, to the great offence of all the spectators, who murmured loudly at your conduct. I myself was not less displeased, and had nearly, contrary to my intention, discovered who I was, to have punished your cruelty. By your air and behaviour you do not seem to be a barbarous or cruel man; and therefore I would fain believe that you had reason for what you did, since I am informed that this was not the first time, but that you practise the same treatment every day. I would know what is the cause, and sent for you for that purpose, that you should tell me the truth, and disguise nothing from me."

Syed Naomaun understood what the caliph demanded of him. The relation was painful to him. He changed colour several times, and could not help shewing how greatly he was embarrassed. However, he must resolve to tell his story; but before he spoke, he prostrated himself before the caliph's throne, and after he rose up, endeavoured to speak to satisfy the caliph, but was so confounded, not so much at the presence of the caliph, as by the nature of his relation, that he was speechless.

The caliph, notwithstanding his natural impatience to be obeyed, shewed not the least anger at Syed Naomaun's silence: he saw plainly, that he either had not assurance to speak before him, or was intimidated by the tone of his voice; or, in short, that there was something to be concealed in his story.

"Syed Naomaun," said the caliph, to encourage him, "recollect yourself, but tell your story as if you were speaking not to me, but to your most familiar friend. If there is any thing in your relation which troubles you, and you think I may be offended at it, I pardon you beforehand: therefore be not uneasy, but speak boldly and freely, and disguise nothing."

Syed Naomaun, encouraged by these words, said, "Commander of the faithful, whatever apprehensions a man may be under at your majesty's presence, I am sensible those respectful sensations would not deprive me of the use of my speech, so as to fail in my obedience, in giving you satisfaction in any other matter but this you now ask of me. I dare not say I am the most perfect of men; yet I am not wicked enough to have committed, or to have had an intention of committing any thing against the laws to fear their severity; and yet I cannot say I am exempt from sin through ignorance. In this case I do not say that I depend upon your majesty's pardon, but will submit myself to your justice, and receive the punishment I deserve. I own, that the manner in which I have for some time treated my mare, and which your majesty has witnessed, is strange, and sets an ill example: but I hope you will think the motive well grounded, and that I am more worthy of compassion than chastisement: but not to keep your majesty any longer in suspense by a long preamble, I will tell you my story."

[Go to The Story of Syed Naomaun]

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

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