[Go back to The Ass, the Ox, and the Labourer]
"Daughter," added the grand vizier, "you deserve to be treated as the merchant treated his wife."
"Father," replied Scheherazade, "I beg you would not take it ill that I persist in my opinion. I am nothing moved by the story of this woman. I could relate many, to persuade you that you ought not to oppose my design. Besides, pardon me for declaring, that your opposition is vain; for if your paternal affection should hinder you from granting my request, I will go and offer myself to the sultan." In short, the father, being overcome by the resolution of his daughter, yielded to her importunity, and though he was much grieved that he could not divert her from so fatal a resolution, he went instantly to acquaint the sultan, that next night he would bring him Scheherazade.
The sultan was much surprized at the sacrifice which the grand vizier proposed to make. "How could you", said he, "resolve to bring me your own daughter?" "Sir," answered the vizier, "it is her own offer. The sad destiny that awaits her could not intimidate her; she prefers the honour of being your majesty's wile for one night, to her life." "But do not act under a mistake, vizier," said the sultan; "to-morrow. when I place Scheherazade in your hands, I expect you will put her to death; and if you fail, I swear that your own life shall answer." "Sir," rejoined the vizier "my heart without doubt will be full of grief to execute your commands; but it is to no purpose for nature to murmur. Though I am her father, I will answer for the fidelity of my hand to obey your order." Shier-ear accepted his minister's offer, and told him he might bring his daughter when he pleased.
T'he grand vizier went with the intelligence to Scheherazade, who received it with as much joy as if it had been the most agreeable information she could have received. She thanked her father for having so greatly obliged her; and perceiving that he was overwhelmed with grief, told him for his consolation, that she hoped he would never repent of having married her to the sultan; and that, on the contrary, he should have reason to rejoice at his compliance all his days.
Her business now was to adorn herself to appear before the sultan; but before she went, she took her sister Dinarzade apart, and said to her, "My dear sister, I have need of your assistance in a matter of great importance, and must pray you not to deny it me. My father is going to conduct me to the sultan; do not let this alarm you, but hear me with patience. As soon as I am in his presence, I will pray him to allow you to lie in the bride- chamber, that I may enjoy your company this one night more. If I obtain that favour, as I hope to do, remember to awake me to- morrow an hour before day, and to address me in these or some such words: 'My sister, if you be not asleep, I pray you that till day-break, which will be very shortly, you will relate to me one of the entertaining stories of which you have read so many.' I will immediately tell you one; and I hope by this means to deliver the city from the consternation it is under at present." Dinarzade answered that she would with pleasure act as she required her.
The grand vizier conducted Scheherazade to the palace, and retired, after having introduced her into the sultan's apartment. As soon as the sultan was left alone with her, he ordered her to uncover her face: he found her so beautiful that he was perfectly charmed; but perceiving her to be in tears, demanded the reason. "Sir," answered Scheherazade, "I have a sister who loves me tenderly, and I could wish that she might be allowed to pass the night in this chamber, that I might see her, and once more bid her adieu. Will you be pleased to allow me the consolation of giving her this last testimony of my affection?" Shier-ear having consented, Dinarzade was sent for, who came with all possible expedition.
An hour before day, Dinarzade failed not to do as her sister had ordered. "My dear sister," cried she, "if you be not asleep, I pray that until daybreak, which will be very shortly, you will tell me one of those pleasant stories you have read. Alas! this may perhaps be the last time that I shall enjoy that pleasure."
Scheherazade, instead of answering her sister, addressed herself to the sultan: "Sir, will your majesty be pleased to allow me to afford my sister this satisfaction?" "With all my heart," replied the sultan. Scheherazade then bade her sister attend, and afterwards, addressing herself to Shier-ear, proceeded as follows.
[Go to The Merchant and The Genie]
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