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The sultan, greatly moved by the recital of this affecting story, and anxious to avenge the sufferings of the unfortunate prince, said to him, "Inform me whither this perfidious sorceress retires, and where may be found her vile paramour, who is entombed before his death." "My lord," replied the prince, "her lover, as I have already told you, is lodged in the Palace of Tears, in a superb tomb constructed in the form of a dome: this palace joins the castle on the side in which the gate is placed. As to the queen, I cannot tell you precisely whither she retires, but every day at sun-rise she goes to visit her paramour, after having executed her bloody vengeance upon me; and you see I am not in a condition to defend myself. She carries to him the potion with which she had hitherto prevented his dying, and always complains of his never having spoken to her since he was wounded."
"Prince," said the sultan, "your condition can never be sufficiently deplored: no one can be more sensibly affected by your misfortunes than I am. Never did any thing so extraordinary befall any man, and those who write your history will have the advantage of relating what surpasses all that has hitherto been recorded. One thing only is wanting; the revenge to which you are entitled, and I will omit nothing in my power to effect it."
In his subsequent conversation with the young prince, the sultan told him who he was, and for what purpose he had entered the castle; and afterwards informed him of a mode of revenge which he had devised. They agreed upon the measures they were to take for accomplishing their design, but deferred the execution of it till the following day. In the mean time, the night being far spent, the sultan took some rest; but the young prince passed the night as usual, without sleep, having never slept since he was enchanted, still indulging some hopes of being speedily delivered from his misery.
Next morning the sultan arose with the dawn, and prepared to execute his design, hiding his upper garment, which might encumber him; he then proceeded to the Palace of Tears. He found it lighted up with an infinite number of flambeaux of white wax, and perfumed by a delicious scent issuing from several censers of fine gold of admirable workmanship. As soon as he perceived the bed where the black lay, he drew his cimeter, and without resistance deprived him of his wretched life, dragged his corpse into the court of the castle, and threw it into a well. After this, he went and lay down in the black's bed, placed his cimeter under the covering, and waited to complete his design.
The queen arrived shortly after. She first went into the chamber of her husband, the king of the Black Islands, stripped him, and with unexampled barbarity gave him a hundred stripes. The unfortunate prince filled the palace with his lamentations, and conjured her in the most affecting tone to take pity on him; but the cruel wretch ceased not till she had given the usual number of blows. "You had no compassion on my lover," said she, "and you are to expect none from me."
After the enchantress had given the king, her husband, a hundred blows with the whip, she put on again his covering of goat's hair, and his brocade gown over all; she went afterwards to the Palace of Tears, and as she entered renewed her tears and lamentations: then approaching the bed, where she thought her paramour lay, "What cruelty," cried she, "was it to disturb the satisfaction so tender and passionate a lover as I am? O cruel prince, who reproachest me that I am inhuman, when I make thee feel the effects of my resentment! Does not thy barbarity surpass my vengeance? Traitor! in attempting the life of the object which I adore, hast thou not robbed me of mine? Alas!" said she, addressing herself to the sultan, conceiving him to be the black "My sun, my life, will you always be silent! Are you resolved to let me die, without affording me the comfort of hearing again from your own lips that you love me? My soul, speak one word to me at least, I conjure you."
The sultan, as if he had awaked out of a deep sleep, and counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks, answered the queen with a grave tone, "There is no strength or power but in God alone, who is almighty." At these words the enchantress, who did not expect them, uttered a loud exclamation of joy. "My dear lord," cried she, "do not I deceive myself; is it certain that I hear you, and that you speak to me?" "Unhappy woman," said the sultan, "art thou worthy that I should answer thee?" "Alas!" replied the queen, "why do you reproach me thus?" "The cries," returned the sultan, "the groans and tears of thy husband, whom thou treatest every day with so much indignity and barbarity, prevent my sleeping night or day. Hadst thou disenchanted him, I should long since have been cured, and have recovered the use of my speech. This is the cause of my silence, of which you complain." "Well," said the enchantress, "to pacify you, I am ready to execute your commands; would you have me restore him?" "Yes," replied the sultan; "make haste to set him at liberty, that I be no longer disturbed by his lamentations."
The enchantress went immediately out of the Palace of Tears; she took a cup of water, and pronounced some words over it, which caused it to boil, as if it had been on the fire. She afterwards proceeded to the young king her husband, and threw the water upon him, saying, "If the creator of all things did form thee as thou art at present; or if he be angry with thee, do not change; but if thou art in that condition merely by virtue of my enchantments, resume thy natural shape, and become what thou west before." She had scarcely spoken these words, when the prince, finding himself restored to his former condition, rose up and returned thanks to God. The enchantress then said to him, "Get thee from this castle, and never return on pain of death." The young king, yielding to necessity, went away from the enchantress, without replying a word; and retired to a remote place, where he patiently awaited the event of the design which the sultan had so happily begun. Meanwhile, the enchantress returned to the Palace of Tears, and supposing that she still spoke to the black, said, "Dear love, I have done what you required; nothing now prevents your rising and giving me the satisfaction of which I have so long been deprived."
The sultan, still counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks, said, "What you have now done is by no means sufficient for my cure; you have only removed a part of the evil; you must cut it up by the root." "My lovely black," resumed the queen, "what do you mean by the root?" "Wretched woman," replied the sultan, "understand you not that I allude to the town, and its inhabitants, and the four islands, destroyed by thy enchantments? The fish every night at midnight raise their heads out of the lake, and cry for vengeance against thee and me. This is the true cause of the delay of my cure. Go speedily, restore things to their former state, and at thy return I will give thee my hand, and thou shalt help me to arise."
The enchantress, inspired with hope from these words, cried out in a transport of joy, "My heart, my soul, you shall soon be restored to your health, for I will immediately do as you command me." Accordingly she went that instant, and when she came to the brink of the lake, she took a little water in her hand, and sprinkling it, had no sooner pronounced some words over the fish and the lake, than the city was immediately restored. The fish became men, women, and children; Mahummedans, Christians, Persians, or Jews; freemen or slaves, as they were before: every one having recovered his natural form. The houses and shops were immediately filled with their inhabitants, who found all things as they were before the enchantment. The sultan's numerous retinue, who found themselves encamped in the largest square, were astonished to see themselves in an instant in the middle of a large, handsome, well-peopled city.
To return to the enchantress: As soon as she had effected this wonderful change, she returned with all expedition to the Palace of Tears, that she might receive her reward. "My dear lord," cried she, as she entered, "I come to rejoice with you in the return of your health: I have done all that you required of me, then pray rise, and give me your hand." "Come near," said the sultan, still counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks. She did so. "You are not near enough," he continued, "approach nearer." She obeyed. He then rose up, and seizing her by the arm so suddenly, that she had not time to discover him, he with a blow of his cimeter cut her in two, so that one half fell one way and the other another. This done he left the body on the spot, and going out of the Palace of Tears, went to seek the young king of the Black Isles, who waited for him with great impatience. When he found him, "Prince," said he, embracing him, "rejoice; you have now nothing to fear; your cruel enemy is dead."
The young prince returned thanks to the sultan in a manner that sufficiently the sincerity of his gratitude, and in return wished him long life and happiness. "You may henceforward," said the sultan, "dwell peaceably in your capital, unless you will accompany me to mine, which is near: you shall there be welcome, and have as much honour and respect shown you as if you were in your own kingdom." "Potent monarch, to whom I am so much indebted," replied the king, "you think then that you are near your capital?" "Yes," said the sultan, "I know it is not above four or five hours' journey." "It will take you a whole year to return," said the prince "I do indeed believe that you came hither from your capital in the time you mention, because mine was enchanted; but since the enchantment is taken off, things are changed: however, this shall not prevent my following you, were it to the utmost corners of the earth. You are my deliverer, and that I may give you proofs of my acknowledging this during my whole life, I am willing to accompany you, and to leave my kingdom without regret."
The sultan was extremely surprised to understand that he was so far from his dominions, and could not imagine how it could be. But the young king of the Black Islands convinced him beyond a possibility of doubt. Then the sultan replied, "It is no matter; the trouble of returning to my own country is sufficiently recompensed by the satisfaction of having obliged you, and by acquiring you for a son; for since you will do me the honour to accompany me, as I have no child, I look upon you as such, and from this moment appoint you my heir and successor."
The conversation between the sultan and the king of the Black Islands concluded with most affectionate embraces, after which the young prince employed himself in making preparations for his journey, which were finished in three weeks, to the great regret of his court and subjects, who agreed to receive at his hands one of his nearest kindred for their monarch.
At length, the sultan and the young prince began their journey, with a hundred camels laden with inestimable riches from the treasury of the young king, followed by fifty handsome gentlemen on horseback, perfectly well mounted and dressed They had a pleasant journey; and when the sultan, who had sent couriers to give advice of his delay, and of the adventure which had occasioned it, approached his capital, the principal officers came to receive him, and to assure him that his long absence had occasioned no alteration in his empire. The inhabitants also came out in great crowds, received him with acclamations, and made public rejoicings for several days.
The day after his arrival the sultan gave all his courtiers a very ample account of the circumstances, which, contrary to his expectation, had detained him so long. He acquainted them with his having adopted the king of the Four Black Islands, who was willing to leave a great kingdom, to accompany and live with him; and, in reward for their loyalty, he made each of them presents according to their rank.
As for the fisherman, as he was the first cause of the deliverance of the young prince, the sultan gave him a plentiful fortune, which made him and his family happy the rest of their days.
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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