[Go back to Ins Alwujjood and Wird Al Ikmaun, Daughter of Ibrahim, Vizier to Sultan Shamikh]
In ancient days there resided in the city of Khorassaun a youth named Mazin, who, though brought up by his mother, a poor widow, to the humble occupation of a dyer, was so celebrated for his personal accomplishments and capacity as to become the admiration of crowds, who daily flocked to his shop to enjoy the pleasure of his conversation. This young man was as good as he was able, nor did flattery take away his humility, or make him dissatisfied with his laborious occupation, which he followed with industry unceasing, and maintained his mother and himself decently from the fruits of his labour. So delicate was his taste in the choice of colours, that veils, turbans, and vests of Mazin's dyeing were sought after by all the young and gay of Khorassaun; and many of the females would often cast a wishful glance at him from under their veils as they gave him their orders. Mazin, however, was destined by fate not always to remain a dyer, but for higher fortunes and surprising adventures.
As he was one day busy in his occupation, a man of Hijjem came to his shop, and after looking at him earnestly for some moments, exclaimed, "Alas, that such a noble youth should be confined to drudge at so mean an employment!" "I thank you, father, for your compassion," replied Mazin, "but honest industry can never be disgraceful." "True," said the old man of Hijjem, "yet if Providence puts affluence and distinction in our way, should we refuse it?" "By no means," said Mazin; "canst thou point me out the way to it without making me forfeit my integrity? If so, I assure thee I am not so fond of my trade but I would be glad to live at ease in an honest manner without it; for I should like to enjoy leisure to follow my studies, which have already gained me some little celebrity." "Son," said the Hijjemmee, "thy wishes shall be satisfied: thou hast no father, but I will be one to thee; from this instant I adopt thee as my son. I possess the art of transmuting common metals into gold: be ready at thy shop early in the morning, when I will meet thee. Farewell!" Having thus said, the old man took leave.
Mazin's curiosity and ambition were raised: he shut up his shop sooner than usual, and returned with a full heart to his mother, to whom he communicated the offered kindness of the Hijjemmee. The good woman, after some moments of reflection, said, "Son, I fear some evil lurks under this apparent kindness, for we live in wicked days, when men profess more than they mean to do for the sake of attaining an object; be cautious then, and do not till thou hast proof of his sincerity regard his offcis. We have at present all we want, and what can riches give more?" Mazin agreed to the propriety of his mother's advice, and promised to be wary. They ate their usual cheerful meal, and retired to rest; but the young man could sleep but little, and he longed with impatience for the morning that was to put him into possession of the art of transmuting metals into gold.
The morning arrived, and Mazin repaired impatiently to his shop, where he had soon after the satisfaction of seeing his adopted father, who came bearing in his hands a crucible. "Welcome, son!" "Welcome, father!" was the mutual salutation; after which the Hijjemmee desired Mazin to kindle a fire: he did so, when the old man inquired of Mazin if he had any old metal, iron, brass, copper, &c. Mazin produced some pieces of an old pot of the latter metal, which were put into the crucible. When melted, the Hijiemmee took from his turban a paper containing powder of a yellowish hue, which he threw into the crucible, over which he repeated some cabalistic words while he stirred the melting metal. At length he took it from the fire, and to his astonishment Mazin beheld a large lump of pure gold, which the Hijicminee desired him to carry to a goldsmith's and get it exchanged for coin He did did so, and received a handsome sum, with which he returned to his adopted father.
"Well, my son, "said the Hijjemmee," art thou now convinced of my skill, and my sincerity in offering to promote thy fortunes?" "I am," said Mazin," and am ready to follow wherever thou choosest, in hopes of learning this invaluable secret" "That shall soon be thine," replied the transmuter of metals;" I will sup with thee this evening, and in the privacy of retirement give thee the necessary instruction." Mazin, overjoyed, immediately shut up his shop, and with his adopted father repaired to his own house, where he seated him in his best apartment. He then went to his mother, desiring that she would go and spend the night at a neighbour's, shewing her the gold which his broken copper had procured, as a proof of the sincerity of his new friend. The old lady no longer doubted upon such evidence, and cheerfully took leave and departed to a friend's house.
Mazin next went to a cook's shop, from which he returned laden with every sort of refreshment, nor was wine forgotten, though forbidden to the faithful. The adopted father and son ate heartily, at the same time pushing about the spirit-stirring liquor, till at last Mazin, who had not been used to drink wine, became intoxicated. The wily magician, for such in fact was his pretended friend, watching his opportunity, infused into the goblet of his unsuspecting host a certain potent drug, which Mazin had scarcely drunk oft, when he fell back upon his cushion totally insensible, the treacherous wizard tumbled him into a large chest, and shutting the lid, locked it. He then ransacked the apartments of the house of every thing portable worth having, which, with the gold, he put into another chest, then fetching in porters, he made them take up the chests and follow him to the seaside, where a vessel waited his orders to sail, and embarked with the unfortunate Mazin and his plunder. The anchor was weighed, and the wind being fair, the ship was soon out of sight of the land
Mazin's mother early in the morning returning to her house found the door open, her son missing, and the rooms ransacked of all her valuables. She gave a loud shriek, tore her hair, beat her bosom, and threw herself on the ground, crying out for her son, who she thought must have been murdered by the treacherous magician, against whose professions she had warned him to be cautious, till the sight of the transmuted gold had deceived her, as well as the unfortunate victim of his accursed arts. Some neighbours hearing her lamentations rushed in, lifted her from the ground, and inquired the cause of her distress; which, when informed of, they endeavoured to alleviate by every consolation in their power, but in vain: the afflicted old lady was not to be comforted. She commanded a tombstone to be raised in the court- yard, over which she sat night and day bewailing her son, taking scarcely food sufficient to preserve her miserable existence.
The infidel Hijjemmee, who was a wicked magician and a worshipper of fire, by name Bharam, hated the true believers, one of whom annually for several years past he had inveigled by his offers of instructing in the science of transmuting metals into his power; and after making him subservient to his purposes in procuring the ingredients necessary for his art, had treacherously put him to death, lest the secret should be divulged: such was now his intention towards the unfortunate Mazin.
On the evening of the second day after the sailing of the vessel, Bharam thought proper to awaken his victim to a sense of his misery. He opened the chest, which had been placed in his cabin, and poured a certain liquid down the throat of Mazin, who instantly sneezed several times; then opening his eyes, gazed for some minutes wildly around him. At length, seeing the magician, observing the sea, and feeling the motion of the ship, his mind surmised to him the misfortune which had happened; and he guessed his having fallen into the snares of the treacherous Bharam, against which his mother had warned him, but in vain. Still, being a virtuous Mussulmaun, he would not complain against the decrees of Heaven; and instead of lamentation uttered the following verse of the sacred Koran: "There is no support or refuge but from the Almighty, whose we are, and to whom we must return. Deal gently with me, O my God, in the dictates of thy omnipotence; and make me resigned under thy chastening, O Lord of all being."
Having finished the above prayer, Mazin turning humbly towards his accursed betrayer, said in a supplicating tone, "What hast thou done, my father? didst thou not promise me enjoyment and pleasure?" The magician, after striking him, with a scowling and malignant sneer, exclaimed, "Thou dog! son of a dog! my pleasure is in thy destruction. Nine and thirty such ill-devoted wretches as thyself have I already sacrificed, and thou shalt make the fortieth victim to my enjoyment, unless thou wilt abjure thy faith, and become, like me, a worshipper of the sacred fire, in which case thou shalt be my son, and I will teach thee the art of making gold." "Cursed be thou, thy religion, and thy art," exclaimed the enraged Mazin: "God forbid that for the pleasures of this world I should apostatize from our holy prophet, and give up the glorious rewards reserved in certain store for his faithful disciples. Thou mayest indeed destroy my body, but my soul despises thy torments" "Vile dog!" roared out the now furious sorcerer," I will try thy constancy." He then called in his slaves, who held Mazin on the floor of the cabin while their abominable master beat him with a knotted whip till he was covered with a gore of blood, but the resolute youth, instead of complaining, uttered only prayers to Heaven for divine support under his pangs, and strength of fortitude to acquire the glory of martyrdom. At length the magician, exhausted by his cruel exercise, desisted, and making his slaves load his unfortunate victim with heavy fetters, chained him down with only a coarse mat to lie upon in a dark closet, in which was placed some stinking water and coarse bread, just sufficient to keep up his miserable existence. Mazm's courage was not to be overcome He washed his wounds, and comforted himself with the hope that if he died he should enjoy the blisses of Paradise, or if Providence had decreed his continuance in life, that the same Providence would present a mode of relief from his present and future afflictions. In this assurance he took a little of his wretched fare, and in spite of the agony of his wounds fell asleep, but only to awake to fresh misery In the morning he was again persecuted by his cruel tormentor, who for three months daily harassed him with blows, with rcvilings, and every sort of insult that malice could invent or cruelty devise.
Hitherto the wind had been fair, and the vessel had nearly reached the desired haven, when suddenly it changed, and a most tremendous storm arose The waves threatened to swallow up or dash the vessel in pieces, so that all gave themselves over for lost. At this crisis the sailors, who believed that the tempest was sent by Heaven as a judgment for their suffering the unfortunate Mazin to be so cruelly tormented, went in a body to the accursed Bharam, and accused him of having brought down the wrath of God upon the crew by his persecution of the young Mussulmaun; at the same time threatening to cast him overboard if he did not instantly release the youth from his confinement. To show the seriousness of their resolves, the sailors seized the slaves who had been the instruments of the magician's cruelty, and threw them into the sea, which so alarmed the treacherous Bharam that he immediately released Mazin from his chains, fell at his feet, begging pardon for his hard usage, and promising if they escaped the storm to conduct him safely to his own country, and fulfil his promise of instruct ing him in the secret of making gold. Wonderful to relate! But no sooner was Mazin freed from his fetters than the violence of the tempest lessened, by degrees the winds subsided, the waves abated their swell, and the sea no longer threatened to overwhelm them: in a few hours all was calm and security, and a prosperous gale enabled the shattered vessel to resume her course.
The sailors now regarding Mazin as one immediately befriended by Heaven, treated him with the greatest respect and attention; and the hypocritical magician pretending sorrow for his late cruelties, strove to procure his forgiveness and good opinion by every art of flattery and affected contrition; which had such an effect on the ingenuous youth that he forgot his treachery, again believed his fair promises and assurances that the torments he had undergone had only been inflicted as trials of his constancy and belief in the true religion, virtues necessary to be proved before the grand secret of transmuting metals could be trusted to his keeping.
The remainder of the voyage was prosperous and happy, and at the expiration of three months more the vessel anchored on the wished for coast, which was rocky, and the beach strewed with pebbles of every colour. The magician having given orders to the master of the vessel to wait a month for their return, disembarked with Mazin, and they proceeded together into the country. When they had got out of sight of the ship the magician sat down, and taking from his vestband a small drum, began to beat upon it with two sticks, when instantly a whirlwind arose, and a thick column of dust rolled towards them from the desert. Mazin was alarmed, and began to repent having left the vessel; when the magician, seeing his colour change, desired him to calm his apprehensions, for which there was no cause, that he had only to obey his orders and be happy. He had scarcely spoken when the wind ceased, the dust dispersed, and three camels stood before them, one of which was laden with water and provisions; the others were bridled and very richly caparisoned. Bharam having mounted one, and, at his desire, Mazin the other, they travelled without ceasing, except to take the necessary refreshment and repose, for seven days and nights successively over a wild and sandy desert.
On the eighth morning they reached a beautifully fertile tract, delightfully watered by clear streams; the ground verdant, shaded by spreading trees laden with fruit, on whose branches various birds warbled melodiously, and beneath them antelopes and other forest animals sported unmolested. At the end of a thick avenue rose to view a capacious dome of blue and green enamel, resting upon four columns of solid gold, each pillar exceeding in value the treasures of the sovereigns of Persia and Greece. They approached the dome, stopped their camels and dismounted, and turned the animals to graze. This splendid building was surrounded by a delightful garden, in which the now happy Mazin and the magician reposed themselves all that day and night. At some distance from this enchanting spot appeared a stupendous fabric, whose numerous turrets and lofty pinnacles glittered to the eye, and denoted a palace of uncommon magnificence, so that the curiosity of Mazin was raised, and he could not help inquiring of his companion to whom such a superb edifice might belong. The magician, rather roughly, desired him for the present to ask no questions concerning a place which belonged to his most bitter enemies, who were evil genii, and of whom at a proper time he would give him the history. Mazim was silent, but from the magician's manner he began to forbode some new treachery.
In the morning Bharam beat his magical drum, and the three camels appealed, when Mazim and his companion mounted, pursuing their journey in the same manner as before for seven days, with a speed more resembling flight than the pace of travel, for their camels were supernatural. On the eighth morning the magician inquired of Mazim what he saw on the horizon. "I behold," said he, "to appearance, a range of thick black clouds extending from east to west." "They are not clouds," replied Bharam," but lofty mountains, called the Jubbal al Sohaub, or mountains of clouds, from their cloud-like appearance, on their summit lies the object of our journey, which with thy assistance we shall soon obtain, and return to our vessel more enriched than all the sovereigns of the world, but thou must be sure to obey me in whatever I may command. "Mazin promised to do so, but his heart trembled within him as he beheld the gloomy prospect before him, and recollected the boast which the accursed magician had made of his having sacrificed thirty-nine youthful victims on these mountains, and also his threat on board the ship to make the fortieth offering of himself. He repented of having trusted himself from the vessel, but it was now too late to recede. He resigned himself to the same Providence who had relieved his sufferings in his voyage, and concealed, as well as he could, his uneasiness from the magician, who now endeavoured to sooth and flatter him with artful promises and caresses.
For four days longer they pursued their route, when it was stopped by the black mountains, which formed, as it were, a wall inaccessible, for the precipices were perpendicular, as if scarped by art, and their tremendous height cast a dark and gloomy shade to a vast distance. They now dismounted, and turned their camels to graze, when the magician took out of his package three loaves and a sum of water, after which he lighted a fire; then having beat his talismanic drum, the camels again appeared, tne smallest of which he killed, embowelled, and carefully flayed off the skin, the inside of which he washed with water. Having done thus, he addressed Mazin, saying, "My son, the task must now be thine to crown our labours with success. Enter this skin, with these loaves and this water bag for thy sustenance while thou remainest on the summit of the mountain. Be not afraid, for no harm can happen I will sew up the skin, leaving room enough for the admission of air. By and by a roc will descend, and seizing it in her talons carry thee easily through the air. When she shall have alighted on the table-land of the mountain, rip open the stitches of the skin with thy dagger, and the roc on seeing thee will be instantly scared, and fly far away. Then arise, gather as much as possible of a black dust which thou wilt find thickly strewed on the ground; put it into this bag, and throw it down to me, after which I will contrive an easy means for thy descent, and when thou hast rejoined me we will return to our vessel, and I will convey thee safely back to thy own country. The dust, which has the quality of transmuting metals into gold, we will share between us, and shall each have enough to rival all the treasuries on earth."
Mazim finding it in vain to oppose, allowed himself to be sewn up in the camel's skin with the loaves and water, recommending himself by mental prayer to the protection of Allah and his prophet. The magician having finished his work retired to some distance, when, as he had said, a monstrous roc, darting from a craggy precipice, descended with the rapidity of lightning, grasped the skin in her widely extended talons, and soaring swifter than the eagle soon alighted on the table-land of the mountain; when Mazin, feeling himself on the ground, ripped the stitches of his dangerous enclosure, and the roc being alarmed, uttered a loud scream and flew away. Mazin now arose, and walked upon the surface of the mountain, which he found covered with black dust; but he beheld also the skeletons of the young men whom the accursed Bharam, after they had served his purpose, had left to perish. His blood became chilled with horror at the view, as he apprehended the same unhappy fate: he however filled his bag with the black powder, and advanced to the edge of a precipice, from which he beheld the magician eagerly looking upwards to discover him. Mazin called out; and when the hypocrite saw him, he began dancing and capering for joy, at the same time exclaiming, "Welcome, welcome, my son! my best friend, beloved child! all our dangers are now over, throw me down the bag." "I will not," said Mazin," but will give it thee when thou hast conveyed me safely from this perilous summit." "That is not in my power," answered Bharam, "till I shall have the bag: cast it down, and I swear by the fire which I worship immediately to procure thee a safe descent. "Mazin, relying on his oath, and seeing no other chance of escape, cast down the bag; which having taken up, the accursed sorcerer mounted his camel and was departing. The unhappy Mazin in agony called after him, saying, "Surely thou wilt not forfeit thy oath, nor leave me to perish!" "Perish thou must, Mussulmaun dog!" exclaimed the treacherous magician, "that my secret may be kept, nor can thy boasted prophet save thee from destruction; for around thee are mountains impassable, and below a fathomless sea. I have obtained what I wished, and leave thee to thy fate." Having said thus he speeded onwards, and was soon out of sight.
Mazin was now in an agony of despair, not a ray of hope comforted his mind; he beat his bosom, threw himself on the ground amid the mouldering skeletons of the former victims to the treachery of the magician, and lay for some time in a state of insensibility. At length the calls of hunger and thirst forced him back to a sense of wretched existence; and the love of life, however miserable, made him have recourse to his water and his loaves. Being somewhat revived, religion came to his aid, and he began to pray for resignation to submit to the decrees of Heaven, however painful. He then walked to the edge of the mountain overhanging the sea, which he observed to wash the base of the rock without any beach, at sight of which a desperate chance of escape struck his mind: this was, to throw himself from the precipice into the ocean, in hopes, should he survive the fall and rise to the surface, he might reach land. He commended himself to God, shut his eyes, held in his breath, and giving a desperate spring, plunged headlong into the dreadful abyss, which providentially received him unhurt, and a friendly wave drove him on shore; where, however, he remained some minutes in a lifeless stupor, owing to the rapidity of his descent from the brain-sickening precipice.
When his senses returned Mazin looked wildly around him, at first scarcely able to bear the light from the recollection of the dizzy eminence from which he had plunged; and an uneasy interval elapsed before he could persuade himself that the certainty of death was past. Convinced at length of this, he prostrated himself to the earth, and exclaimed, "In God alone is our refuge and support! I thought I should have perished, but his providence has sustained me." He then wept exceedingly, entreated forgiveness of his offences, read several passages from the Koran, which he had preserved in his vestband, repeated the whole of his rosary, and besought the intercession of the prophet for his deliverance from future dangers. After this he walked onwards till evening, the fruits of the forest his food, his drink the water of the streams, and his resting place the green turf. Such was his progress, that after three days he reached the spot under the mountain where he had been taken up by the roc in the camel's skin. He now recognized the road he had come; and after measuring back his steps for nine days, beheld on the last the superb palace, concerning which he had inquired of the magician, who had informed him it was inhabited by evil genii, his most bitter enemies.
For some time Mazin hesitated whether he should advance to the gates of the palace; but considering that no greater calamity could happen to him than he had already endured, he contemned danger, and boldly advanced to a grand lodge built of white marble exquisitely polished. He entered, and beheld on one of the raised platforms which skirted the passage into the court two beautiful damsels playing at the game of chess; one of whom on beholding him exclaimed, "Surely, sister, this is the young man who passed this way about a month ago with Bharam the magician?" "I am he!" exclaimed Mazin, at the same time throwing himself at her feet, "and entreat your hospitable protection." The lady, raising him from the ground, said, "Stranger, you resemble so much a once beloved brother, that I feel inclined to adopt thee as such, if my sister will also agree to do so." The other lady readily assented. They then embraced Mazin, seated him between them, and requested to be informed of his adventures, of which he gave them a true narration.
When Mazin had concluded his story, the ladies expressed compassion for his misfortunes, and the strongest resentment against the accursed magician, whom they vowed to punish by a tormenting death for having had the insolence to accuse them of being evil genii. They then proceeded to acquaint him with the cause of their residence in this secluded palace, saying, "Brother, for as such we shall henceforward regard you, our father is a most potent sultan of a race of good genii, who were converted by Solomon, the son of David, to the true faith; we are seven daughters by the same mother; but for some cause which we do not know the sultan our father, being fearful of our becoming connected with mankind, has placed us in this solitary spot. This palace was erected by genii for our accommodation; the meadows and forests around it are delightful, and we often amuse ourselves with field sports, there being plenty of every sort of game, as you must have observed. When we want horses or camels we have only to beat a small magical drum, and they instantly attend our call, ready caparisoned. Our five sisters are at present at the chase, but will soon return. Set thy heart at rest, forget thy misfortunes, which are now at an end, and thou shall live with us in ease and pleasure."
The five sisters soon returned, and Mazin's adventures being recounted to them they also adopted him as their brother; and he continued with these ladies, who strove to divert him all in their power by repeated rounds of amusements: one day they hunted, another hawked, another fished, and their indoor pleasures were varied and delightful; so that Mazin soon recovered his health, and was happy to the extent of his wishes. A year had elapsed, when Mazin one day riding out for his amusement to the enamelled dome supported on four golden columns, perceived under it the accursed magician, and with him a youth, whom, like himself, he had inveigled into his snares, and devoted also to destruction. The rage of Mazin was kindled at the sight; he drew his sabre, and rushing unperceived behind the sorcerer, who was in the act of flaying a camel for the purposes already described, seized him by his hair, and exclaimed, "Wretch! the judgment of Heaven at length hath overtaken thee, and soon shall thy impure soul be plunged into that fire thou hast blasphemously adored." The magician struggled, but in vain. He then implored for mercy and forgiveness; but Mazin, convinced by experience that he deserved none, struck off his head at one blow. Then informing the intended viftim, who stood near gazing with astonishment, of the wicked arts of the accursed Bharam, and of his own narrow escape from almost certain destruction, he advised the young man to remount his camel, and return to the spot where he had disembarked from the vessel, which would safely convey him back to his own country. The youth, having thanked him for his deliverance, took his leave; and Mazin returned to the palace, carrying with him the head of the magician as a trophy of his victory. He was highly applauded for his prowess by the sisters, who rejoiced in the destruction of so cruel an enemy to mankind.
Many days had not elapsed after this event, when one morning Mazin and the sisters sitting together in a gallery of the palace, observed a thick cloud of dust rising from the desert and approaching towards them. As it came nearer they perceived through it a troop of horsemen; upon which the sisters, desiring Mazin to retire into an inner chamber, went to the gateway to inquire who the strangers might be. They were servants of the genie sultan, father to the ladies, and sent by him to conduct them to his presence, in order to attend the nuptials of a near relation. Upon this summons the sisters prepared for the journey, and at the end of three days departed, assuring Mazin that they would return in a month. At taking leave they gave him the keys of every apartment in the palace, telling him that he might open every door except one, which to enter might be attended with unpleasant consequences, and therefore had better be avoided. Mazin promised to observe their caution; and for many days was so well amused in examining the magnificent rooms and curiosities of the palace, that he did not feel a wish to transgress till the forbidden door alone remained unopened. Having then nothing to divert him, he could not resist the impulse of curiosity, but unlocked the door, which opened on a marble staircase by which he ascended to the terraced roof of the palace, from whence a most delightful prospect feasted his sight. On one side his eye was arrested by an extensive garden, in the centre of which, under shady trees, was a basin of clear water, lined with gems of every colour and description. He resolved to visit this enchanting object; and descending the staircase, explored his way through a long arcade, which led him at length into the garden, in which he diverted himself with the scenery it afforded for some time. He then retired to an alcove on the margin of the basin, and sat down; but had not rested many moments, when to his astonishment he beheld descending from the sky a company of beautiful damsels, whose robes of light green silk floating in the air seemed their only support. Alarmed at such a preternatural appearance, he retired to the end of the alcove, from whence he watched their motions. They alighted on the brink of the water, and having thrown off their robes, stood to the enraptured view of Mazin in native loveliness. Never had he beheld such enchanting beauty; but one even more exquisitely charming than the rest attracted his gaze, and from the instant fixed the affections of his heart. They now plunged into the basin, where for some time they amused themselves by swimming, every now and then playfully dashing the water over themselves and at each other. When satiated with frolic they came out of the water, sat for some time on the verdant margin, then dressed themselves, and adjusting their robes to the air, soared aloft, and were soon far from the sight of the enamoured Mazin, who followed them till his eyes could stretch no farther; then despairing of ever again beholding the object of his affections, he fainted on the grass, and it was some time before he recovered his senses. He returned melancholy to the palace, and spent the night in reposeless agitation.
The following morning the seven sisters returned; and she who had first welcomed him to their abode, and had ever since retained for Mazin the purest affection, ran with eagerness to inquire after his health. Great was her affliction on beholding him upon his bed, pale, and apparently in a state of rapid decay. After many kind questions, to which he returned no answers, she entreated earnestly, by the vow of brotherly and sisterly adoption which had past between them, that he would inform her of the cause ot his unhappy dejection; assuring him that she would use every exertion to remove it, and gratify his wishes, be they what they might, however difficult to be obtained. Mazin upon this, in a feeble tone, related his adventure in the garden; and declared that unless the beautiful (he supposed celestial) damsel could be obtained for him he must die of grief. The sister bade him be comforted, for in a short time his desires should be satisfied, which revived his spirits, and he accompanied his kind hostess to welcome home her sisters, who received him with their usual hospitality, but were grieved and alarmed at the sad alteration in his appearance, of which they inquired the reason, and were informed that it was the effect of absence from his generous patronesses.
The next morning the sisters went upon a hunting excursion for ten days, only one (his kindest friend) remained in the palace, under pretence of attending Mazin, whose health, she said, was too delicate to bear the exercise of the chase. When the others were departed, she informed Mazin that the beautiful beings he had seen in the garden were of a race of genie much more powerful than her own, that they inhabited a country surrounded by seas and deserts not to be approached by human exertion, that the ladies he beheld were sisters to the queen of these genii, whose subjects were entirely female, occasionally visited by male genii, with whom they were in alliance for the sake of population, and to whom all the males were sent away as soon as born. She further told him, that these females had the power, from their silken robes, of soaring through the air with a flight an hundred times swifter than that of any bird, that they were fond of recreating in verdant spots, and bathing in the clearest waters, and that the garden he had seen them in was a favourite place of their resort, so that they would probably soon visit it again. "Possibly," continued she, "they may recreate themselves there to-day; we will be on the watch, and if they appear, you must fix your eye on your favourite, mark where she places her robes, and while they are in the water seize and conceal them, for deprived of these she cannot fly away, and you may make her your prisoner. Bring her to the palace, and endeavour by tenderness and endearing attention to gain her affection and consent to marriage; but remember when she is in your power to keep her robes from her, for should she regain possession of them she would certainly return to the Flying Islands, and you would see her no more."
Mazin and his adopted sister now repaired to the garden, and seated themselves in the alcove, nor had they been there long when the fair genii appeared as before, descended on the margin of the basin, and all having undressed, each laying her robes by themselves, rushed playfully into the water, in which they began to swim, dive, and besprinkle playfully each other. Mazin, whose eager eye had ardently watched his beloved, swiftly, but cautiously, snatching up the robes of his mistress, conveyed them to the alcove unobserved by the fair bathers; who, when they had sufficiently amused themselves, quitted the water, and ascending the bank, began to dress; but how can we describe the distressful confusion of the unhappy genie whose robes had been stolen? Big tears rolled down her beautiful cheeks, she beat her bosom, tore her hair, and uttered loud shrieks, while her sisters, instead of consoling her, were concerned only for their own safety, and dressing themselves with confused haste, bade her farewell, mounted into the air, and disappeared. On their departure, Mazin and his adopted sister approached, and saluting the disconsolate genie endeavoured to console her, but for the present in vain, her mind being intent only on the sad captivity she thought awaited her, and the loss of her native country and relations. They led her gently to the palace, and Mazin, retiring respectfully, left her to the care of his adopted sister, who by a thousand endearments and attentions so gained upon her, that in two days the genie began to recover her spirits, and consented to receive Mazin as her husband, when the ladies should return from the chase. On their arrival at the palace they were informed by their sisters of what had happened, and introduced to the fair stranger; who, diverted by their company and attentions, now scarcely regretted her captivity. Preparations were made for the nuptials, and in a short time Mazin was made happy in the possession of his beloved genie. A round of festivities succeeded their marriage, and the seven sisters strove with each other who should by invention of new amusements make their residence among them most delightful to the happy pair Mazin, however, now began to think of his mother and his native city with fond regret, and at length begged leave of his kind patronesses to return home, to which request they, from admiration of his filial love, though unwilling to part, consented, and a day was fixed for his departure. The time being arrived, the sisters beat their magical drum, when several camels appeared at the gates of the palace heavily laden with the richest goods, a large sum of money, valuable jewels, and refreshments for the journey, led by proper attendants. One camel carried a splendid litter for the conveyance of his wife, and another was richly caparisoned for the use of Mazin, who, having taken an affectionate leave of his generous benefactresses, whom he promised to revisit at some future time, departed, and pursued the route back towards the sea shore, where he had disembarked with the magician. On the journey nothing remarkable occurred, and on their arrival at the coast they found a vessel ready to receive them, when the wind proving fair, a short time carried them safely to Bussorah, where Mazin had the satisfaction of finding his mother alive, though greatly wasted with constant grief and lamentation for his loss. To describe the joy of their meeting is impossible, for never was there more tender affeftion between parent and child than subsisted between Mazin and his mother. She seemed to gain new life from his recovery, and again to grow young. The fair genie, who was now in the way of being a mother, appeared perfectly contented in her situation, and Mazin, so unexpectedly restored to his country, was happy in the possession of all he wished; for the generous sisters had bestowed such wealth upon him, that, in addition to the domestic felicity he enjoyed, he was now one of the richest persons in all Bussorah.
Three years had rolled away in undisturbed happiness, during which the fair genie had borne him two sons, when Mazin thought it grateful to perform his promise to the seven sisters, the benevolent foundresses of his good fortune. Having accordingly made preparations for his journey, he committed his wife's native robes to the care of his mother, giving her the key of a secret recess in which he had lodged them, but with a strict charge not to let the genie put them on, lest an irresistible impulse might inspire her to fly away to her own country; for though in general she had seemed contented, he had heard her now and then express a wish to be again with her own friends and species. The mother promised obedience, and Mazin having taken an affectionate leave of her, his wife and children, with assurances of speedy return, embarked on board a vessel and pursued his voyage, which was uncommonly prosperous. On his landing he found camels waiting his arrival on the beach, for the genie ladies, by magic arts, knew of his coming, and had stationed them for his conveyance to their palace, which he reached in safety, and was received with the most aftectionate welcomes and hospitality.
Some time after the departure of Mazin, his wife requested her mother-in-law's permission to amuse herself at a public bath, and the old lady willingly accompanied her and the children to the most celebrated humnaum in the city, which was frequented by the ladies and those of the chief personages of the court, the caliph Haroon al Rusheed then happening to be at Bussorah. When they reached the bath there were then in it some of the principal female slaves, attendants of Zobeide, who, on the entrance of Mazin's wife, were struck with her uncommon beauty, and instantly collecting round her, rapturously gazed upon her as she was undressing.
The slaves of Zobeide did not cease to admire Mazin's wife till she left the hummaum, and even followed her till she entered her own house, when dusk had begun to gloom, and they became apprehensive of their mistress's being displeased at their long absence, and so it happened.
Upon entering into her presence, Zobeide exclaimed, "Where have ye loitered, and what has been the cause of your unusually long stay at the hummaum?" Upon which they looked confusedly at each other, and remained silent. The sultana then said in anger, "Instantly inform me of the cause of your delay!" when they related the wonderful beauty of Mazin's wife, and dwelt so much upon her charms, that Zobeide was overcome by curiosity to behold them. On the follow ing day she sent for the mother of Mazin, who obeyed the summons with fear and trembling, wondering what could have made the caliph's consort desirous of seeing a person of her inferior rank.
Mazin's mother prostrated herself, and kissed the feet of the sultana, who graciously raising her, said, "Am Mazin, our wish is that you introduce to me your son's wife, of whose beauty I have heard such a description, that I long to behold her."
When the mother of Mazin heard these words, her heart sunk within her, she trembled, but dared not refuse the command of Zobeide, and she said, "To hear is to obey!" after which she took leave, with the usual ceremony of prostration before the throne of the sultana.
When the mother of Mazin left the princess Zobeide she returned towards her own house; and when she had reached it. entered to her son's wife, and said, "Our sultana Zobeide hath invited thee to an entertainment." The wife of Mazin was delighted, instantly rose up, arrayed herself in the richest apparel she was mistress of, and dressed her two children in their choicest garments and ornaments Then with them, the mother of her husband, and a black slave, she proceeded, till they reached the palace of the princess Zobeide, which they entered, and found her sitting in impatient expectation. They kissed the ground be fore her, and prayed for her prosperity.
When the sultana Zobeide beheld the wife of Mazin her senses were confounded, her heart fluttered, she was astonished at her beauty, elegance, graceful stature, and blooming complexion, and exclaimed, "Gracious heaven! Where could such a form as this have been created?" Then she seated her guests, and ordered a collation to be brought in, which was done immediately, when they ate and were satisfied, but Zobeide could not keep her eyes from the wife of Mazin of Bussorah. She kissed her, and questioned her concerning what had befallen herself and her husband. Her astonishment was redoubled on the relation of their adventures.
The wife of Mazin then said, "My princess, if you are thus surprised, though you have not seen me in my native robes, how would you be delighted at my appearance in them! If, therefore, you wish to gratify your curiosity by beholding a miracle, you must command the mother of my husband to bring my country dress. "Upon this Zobeide commanded the mother of Mazin to fetch the flying robes, and as she dared not disobey the sultana of the caliph, she went home, and speedily returned with them. Zobeide took them into her hands, examined them, and was surprised at their fashion and texture. At length she gave them to the wife of Mazin.
When the wife of Mazin had received the robes, she unfolded them, and going into the open court of the palace, arrayed herself in them, then taking her children in her arms, mounted with them suddenly into the air. When she had ascended to about the height of sixty feet, she called out to the mother of her husband, saying, "Give my adieu, dear mother, to my lord, and tell him, should ardent love for me affect him he may come to me in the islands of Waak al Waak." After this speech she soared towards the clouds, till she was hidden from their eyes, and speeded to her own country.
When the mother of Mazin beheld her in the air, she beat her cheeks, scattered dust upon her head, and cried aloud to the princess Zobeide, "This is thy mischief." Zobeide was not able to answer or reprove her boldness from the excess of her sorrow and regret, which made her repent, when repentance could not avail. The old lady returned in despair to her own habitation.
Thus it happened to the persons above mentioned, but how was it with the affairs of Mazin? He did not cease travelling for some time, till he arrived at the palace of the seven sisters, and paid his respefts. They were rejoiced at his arrival, and inquired after his wife, when he informed them she was well, and that God had blessed him with two children, both sons, which added to their satisfaction. He remained with them for some time, after which he entreated their permission to depart. They took a tender leave of him, when he bade them farewell, and returned towards his own country; nor did he halt till he arrived in safety at Bussorah. When he entered his house he found his mother alone, mournfully weeping and lamenting what had happened in his absence. Seeing her in this state, he inquired the cause, upon which she informed him of all that had occurred, from the beginning to the conclusion.
When Mazin had heard the unwelcome intelligence, he cried out in an agony of distress for the loss of his wife and children, fell fainting to the ground, and forgot his own existence. His mother, on beholding his condition, beat her cheeks, and sprinkled water upon his face till he came to himself, when he wept and said to his mother, "Inform me what my wife may have spoken on her departure." She repeated her farewell words: upon hearing which his distress and ardent longing for his wife and children was redoubled. He remained mournfully at home for the space of ten days, after which he resolved upon the journey to the islands of Waak al Waak, distant from Bussorah one hundred and fifty years of travel.
Mazin departed from his mother after he had taken leave and entreated her prayers for his success, but the aged matron was so affected that she ordered her tomb to be prepared, and did nothing but weep and lament night and day for her son, who did not halt till he had reached the palace of the seven sisters. When they saw him they were surprised, and said to one another, "There must be some urgent cause for his returning so speedily." They saluted him, and inquired after his affairs: upon which he informed them of the desertion of his wife, what she had said at going away, and of his resolves to travel to the islands of Waak al Waak. The seven ladies replied, "This expedition is impossible to be accomplished either by thee or any of thy race; for these islands are distant a hundred and fifty years' journey, so that thou canst not live to reach them." Mazin exclaimed, "My attempting it, however, is incumbent upon me, though I may perish on the road: if God has decreed my reunion with my wife I shall meet her again; but if not, I shall die and be received into the mercy of the Almighty." The sisters did not cease to importune him to lay aside the journey, but it was impossible for him to obey them or remain at ease; upon which their grief for his situation increased. They knew that the distance was such as he could never overcome by human aid, or rejoin his wife, but they respected his ardent love for her and his children.
On this account they consulted with one another how to assist him on the journey. He remained with them a month, but unable to repose or enjoy their entertainments. The sisters had two uncles, one named Abd al Kuddoos, and the other Abd al Sulleeb, who lived at three months distance from them, to whom they wrote in recommendation of Mazin as follows.
"The bearer is our friend Mazin of Bussorah. If you can direct him how to reach the islands of Waak al Waak, assist him; but if not, prevent him from proceeding, lest he plunge himself into destruction. At present he will not attend to our advice or reproofs, from excess of love to his wife and children, but through you there may finally occur to him safety and success."
When they had sealed this letter they gave it to Mazin, and bestowed also upon him, of water and provisions, what would suffice for three months' consumption, laden upon camels, and a steed for his conveyance, upon which he took leave of them with many thanks, fully resolved to pursue his journey to the islands of Waak al Waak.
With much pain and difficulty he pursued his journey, nor had he any pleasure either in eating or drinking during the three months of his pilgrimage. At length he reached a verdant pasturage, in which was a variety of flowers, flocks of sheep, and cattle feeding. It was indeed a paradise upon earth. In one part of it he perceived a pleasant eminence on which were buildings: he advanced to them, and entered a court. Within it he beheld a venerable looking personage, his beard flowing to his middle, whom he saluted; when the sage returned his compliments, welcomed him with respectful demeanour, and congratulated him on his arrival. He seated him, and laid before him a collation, of which they both ate till they were satisfied.
Mazin lodged with him that night, and in the morning the sage inquired of him his situation, and the reason of his coming to such a sequestered spot.
Mazin informed him; and, behold! this personage was Abd al Kuddoos; who, when he heard his guest mention particulars of his brother's children, redoubled his attentions to him, and said, "Did they give you any letter?" Mazin replied, "Yes." He eagerly exclaimed, "Give it to me." He gave it him, when he opened it, read it to himself, and considered the contents word byword.
Abd al Kuddoos gazed earnestly at Mazin; reflected on his adventures, at which he was astonished; and how he had plunged himself into danger and difficulty in such a wild pursuit. He then said to him, "My son, my advice is, that thou return by the way which thou hast come, and no longer vex thy soul on account of impossibilities, for this business thou canst not accomplish. I will write to the daughters of my brother what shall make thee happy with them, and restore thy peace. Return then to them, and perplex not thyself farther, for between this spot and the islands of Waak al Waak is the distance of a hundred and fifty years' journey. On the way also are numerous perils, for in it are the abodes of genii, the haunts of wild beasts, and monstrous serpents, and some parts also where food cannot be had or thirst be gratified. Have compassion then, my son, upon thyself, and rush not on destruction."
Abd al Kuddoos continued to dissuade him from his resolution during three days, but he would not hear advice or reproof. On the third he prepared to depart, being sufficiently refreshed; upon which the old man, seeing his steadiness, arose, kindled a fire, cast into it some perfumes, and uttered incantations, to Mazin unintelligible; when suddenly appeared a genie, in stature forty cubits; he was one of the subdued spirits of our lord Solomon. He muttered and growled, saying, "For what, my lord, hast thou summoned me here? shall I tear up this eminence by the roots, and hurl it beyond the mountains of Kaaf?"
Abd al Kuddoos replied, "God be merciful to thee; I have occasion for thee, and request that thou wilt accomplish my wish in one day:" upon which the genie answered, "To hear is to obey."
Abd al Kuddoos then said to the genie, "Take up this young man, and convey him to my brother Abd al Sullecb." He consented, though the distance was a common journey of seventy years. The genie advanced, seized Mazin, and placing him upon his shoulders, soared with him through the air from morning till sunset, when he descended before Abd al Sulleeb, paid his respects, and informed him of the commands of his brother Abd al Kuddoos. Upon this he greeted Mazin, who presented him the letter from the daughters of his brother, which he opened and read. When he had examined the contents, he was astonished at the circumstances which had befallen Mazin, his arrival with him, and his resolve to penetrate to the islands of Waak al Waak. He then said to him, "My son, I advise that thou vex not thyself with these difficulties and dangers, for thou canst never attain thy object, or reach these islands."
Mazin now began to despair, and at the remembrance of his wife and children to weep bitterly, insomuch that he fainted, which, when Abd al Sulleeb beheld, his heart sympathized with his unhappy condition. He perceived that he would not return from his pursuit, or be controlled, and therefore thought it best to assist his progress towards the islands. Going into another apartment, he kindled a fire, over which he sprinkled some perfumes, and uttered incantations; when, lo! ten genii presented themselves before him, and said, "Inform us, my lord, what thou desirest, and we will bring it thee in an instant." He replied, "May God be gracious unto you!" and related to them the story of Maxin, his wife, and children.
When the ten genii had heard the narration, they exclaimed, "This affair is wonderful and miraculous; however, we will take and convey him safely over the mountains and deserts, to the extent of our country and dominion, and leave him there, but cannot promise further assistance, as we dare not pass a step beyond our own territories, for the land belongs to others. In it are innumerable horrors, and we dread the inhabitants." Mazin having heard what they said, exclaimed, "I accept your offer with gratitude."
The ten genii now took up Mazin, soared with him through tnc air for a night and day, till they came to the limits of their territories, and then set him down in a country called the land of Kafoor, took, their leaves, and vanished from his sight. He walked onwards, and did not neglect to employ his tongue in prayer, beseeching from God deliverance and the attainment of his wishes. Often would he exclaim, "O God, deliverer from bondage, who canst guide in safety over mountains, who feedest the wild beasts of the forest, who decreest life and death, thou canst grant me if thou choosest relief from all my distress, and free me from all my sorrows."
In this manner did he travel onwards during ten days; on the last of which he beheld three persons contending with each other, each man trying to kill his fellow. He was astonished at their conduit, but advanced towards them. Upon his approach they desisted from combat, and one and all exclaimed, "We will be judged before his young man, and whoever contradicts his opinion shall be deemed in the wrong." To this they agreed, and coming up to Mazin, demanded from him a just arbitration in their dispute. They then displayed before him a cap, a small copper drum, and a wooden ball, saying, "We are three brothers, by the same father and mother, who are both received into the mercy of God, leaving behind them these articles. They are three, and we are three; but a dispute hath fallen out among us respecting their allotment, as each of us says, ‘I will have the cap.' Our contention made us proceed to blows, but now we are desirous that thou shouldst arbitrate between us, and allot an article to each of us as thou shall judge best, when we will rest satisfied with thy decision, but should either contradict it he shall be adjuged an offender."
When Mazin heard the above he was surprised, and said to himself, "These articles arc so paltry and of such trifling value as not to be worth an arbitration; for surely this shabby cap, the drum, and the wooden ball, cannot be worth altogether more than half a deenar; but I will inquire farther about them." He then said, "My brethren, wherein lies the value of these three things about which you were contending, for to me they appear of very little worth." They replied, "Dear uncle, each of them has a property worth treasuries of wealth, and to each of them belongs a tale so wonderful, that wert thou to write it on a tablet of adamant it would remain an example for those who will be admonished."
Mazin then requested that they would relate to him the stories of the three articles, when they said, "The eldest brother shall first deliver the account of one, its properties, what can be gained from them, and we will not conceal any thing from thee."
"This cap," said the elder brother, "is called the cap of invisibility, by which, whoever possesseth it may become sovereign of the world. When he puts it on, he may enter where he pleases, for none can perceive him, either genii or men, so that he may convey away whatever he chooses, unseen, in security. He may enter the cabinets of kings and statesmen, and hear all they converse upon respecting political intrigues. Does he covet wealth, he may visit the royal treasuries, and plunder them at his pleasure; or does he wish for revenge, he can kill his enemy without being detected. In short, he may act as he pleases without fear of discovery.'
Mazin now said to himself, "This cap can become nobody but me, to whom it will be most advantageous in the object of my expedition. Perhaps it may conduct me to my wife and children, and I may obtain from its possession all I wish. It is certainly one of the wonders of the world and rarities of the age, not to be found among the riches of kings of the present day." When he had ruminated thus, he said, "I am acquainted with the properties of the cap, what are those of the drum?"
The second brother began, saying, "Whoever has this drum in his possession, should he be involved in a difficult situation, let him take it out of its case, and with the sticks gently beat upon the characters engraven on the copper; when, if his mind be collected and his courage firm, there will appear to him wonderful matters. The vurtue of it consists in the words inscribed upon it, which were written by our lord Solomon Bin David in talismanic characters, each of which has control over certain spirits and princes of the genii, and a power that cannot be described in speech. Hence, whoever is master of this drum may become superior to all the monarchs of the present day, for, on his beating it in the manner alreadv described, when he is pressed for help, all the princes of the genii, with their sons, will appear also their troops and followers, ready to obey his commands. Whatever he may order them to execute they will perform by virtue of the talisman of our lord Solomon Bin David."
When Mazin of Bussorah had heard the above, he said to himself, "This drum is fitting only for me, as I have much more need of it than the brothers. It will protect me from all evil in the islands of Waak al Waak, should I reach them, and meet with my wife and children. It is true, if I take only the cap I may be able to enter all places, but this drum will keep injury from me, and with it I shall be secure from all enemies' After this, he said, "I have been informed of the virtues of the cap, and the properties of the drum, there now only remains the account of the wooden ball, that I may give judgment between you, therefore let the third brother speak. He an swercd, "To hear is to obey."
The third brother said, "My dear uncle, whoever possesses this ball will find in it wonderful properties, for it brings distant parts near, and makes near distant, it shortens long joumeys, and lengthens short ones If any person wish to perform one of two hundred years in two days, let him take it from its case, then lay it upon the ground and mention what place he desires to go, it will instantly be in motion, and rush over the earth like the blast of the stormy gale. He must then follow it till he arrives at the place desired, which he will have the power to do with ease."
When the youth had concluded his description of the virtue of the wooden ball, Mazin resolved within himself to take this also from the brothers, and said, "If your wish be that I should arbitrate between you, I must first prove the virtues of these three articles, and afterwards let each take that which may fall to him by decision." The three brothers exclaimed, "We have heard, and we consent; act as thou thinkest best, and may God protect thee in thy undertakings!" Mazin then put on the cap, placed the drum under his vestband, took up the ball and placed it on the ground, when it speeded before him swiftly as the gale. He followed it till it came to the gate of a building which it entered, and Mazin also went in with it. The brothers ran till they were fatigued, and cried out, "Thou hast sufficiently tried them;" but in vain, for by this time there was between him and them the distance of ten years' journey. Mazin now rested, took the drum in his hands, rubbed his fingers over the talismanic characters, hesitated whether he should strike them with the sticks, then labored lightly upon them, when, lo! a voice exclaimed, "Mazin, thou hast gained thy desires.
"Thou wilt not, however," continued the voice, "arrive at thy object till after much trouble, but take care of the ball in this spot, for thou art at present in the land of the evil genii." Upon this, Mazin took up the ball and concealed it in his clothes; but he was overcome with astonishment at hearing words without seeing the speaker, and exclaimed, "Who art thou, my lord?" "I am," replied the voice, "one of the slaves of the characters which thou seest engraved upon the drum, and unremittingly in attendance; but the other servants will not appear except the drum be beaten loudly, when three hundred and sixty chiefs will attend thy commands, each of whom has under his authority ten thousand genii, and every individual of them numerous followers."
Mazin now inquired the distance of the islands of Waak al Waak; to which the voice replied, "Three years' journey:" upon which he struck the ball before him, and followed it. He next arrived in a region infested by serpents, dragons, and ravenous beasts, in the mountains of which were mines of copper. He now again tabored gently upon the drum, when the voice exclaimed, "I am ready to obey thy commands."
"Inform me," said Mazin, "what is the name of this country?" "It is called," answered the voice, "the Land of Dragons and Ravenous Animals. Be careful then of thyself, and make no delay, nor regard fatigue, for these mountains are not to be passed without a chance of trouble from the inhabitants, who are genii, and in their caves are furious wild beasts." Upon this he struck the ball afresh, and followed it unceasingly, till at length he reached the sea shore, and perceived the islands of Waak al Waak at a distance, whose mountains appeared of a fiery red, like the sky gilded by the beams of the setting sun. When he beheld them he was struck with awe and dread; but recovering, he said to himself, "Why should I be afraid? since God has conducted me hither, he will protect me; or, if I die, I shall be relieved from my troubles, and be received into the mercy of God." He then gathered some fruits, which he ate, drank some water, and having performed his devotions, laid himself down to sleep, nor did he awake till the morning.
In the morning Mazin had recourse to his drum, which he rubbed gently, when the voice inquired his commands. "How am I," said he, "to pass this sea, and enter the islands?" "That is not to be done," replied the voice, "without the assistance of a sage who resides in a cell on yonder mountains, distant from hence a day's journey, but the ball will conduct thee there in half an hour. When you reach his abode, knock softly at the door, when he will appear, and inquire whence you come, and what you want. On entering he will receive thee kindly, and desire thee to relate thy adventures from beginning to end. Conceal nothing from him, for he alone can assist thee in passing the sea "
Mazin then struck the ball, and followed it till he arrived at the abode of the hermit, the gate of which he found locked He knocked, when a voice from within said, "Who is at the gate?" "A guest," replied Mazin upon which the sage arose and opened the door, admitted him, and entertained him kindly for a whole night and day, after which Mazin ventured to inquire how he might pass the sea The sage replied, "What occasions thy searching after such an object?" Mazin answered, "My lord, I intend to enter the islands, and with that view have I travelled far distant from my own country." When the sage heard this, he stood up before him, took a book, opened it, and read in it to himself for some time, every now and then casting a look of astonishment upon Mazin. At length he raised his head and said, "Heavens! what troubles, disasters, and afflictions in exile have been decreed to this youth in the search of his object!" Upon this Mazin exclaimed, "Wherefore, my lord, did you look at the book and then at me so earnestly?" The sage replied, "My son, I would instruct thee how to reach the islands, since such is thy desire, but thou canst not succeed in thy desires till after much labour and inconvenience. However, at present relate to me thy adventures from first to last" Mazin rejoined, "My story, my lord, is such a surprising one, that were it engraven on tablets of adamant, it would be an example for such as would take warning."
When he had related his story from beginning to end, the sage exclaimed, "God willing thou wilt attain thy wishes:" upon which Mazin inquired concerning the sea surrounding the islands, and how he could overcome such an impediment to his progress; when the sage answered, "By God's permission, in the morning we will repair to the mountains, and I will shew thee the wonders of the seas."
When God permitted morning to dawn the hermit arose, took Mazin with him, and they ascended the mountains, till they reached a structure resembling a fortress, which they entered, and proceeded into the inmost court, in which was an immense colossal statue of brass, hollowed into pipes, having in the midst of it a reservoir lined with marble, the work of magicians. When Mazin beheld this he was astonished, and began to tremble with fear at the vastness of the statue, and what miraculous power it might contain. The hermit now kindled a fire, threw into it some perfumes, and muttered some unintelligible words, when suddenly dark clouds arose, from which burst out eddies of tempestuous wind, lightnings, claps of thunder, groans, and frightful noises, and in the midst of the reservoir appeared boiling waves, for it was near the ocean surrounding the islands. The hermit did not cease to utter his incantations, until the hurricane and noises had subsided by his authority, for he was more powerful than any of the magicians, and had command over the rebellious genii. He now said to Mazin, "Go out, and look towards the ocean surrounding the islands."
Mazin repaired to the summit of the mountain, and looked towards the sea, but could not discover the smallest trace of its existence: upon which he was astonished at the miraculous power of the hermit. He returned to him, exclaiming, "I can behold no remains of the ocean, and the islands appear joined to the main land;" when the sage said, "My son, place thy reliance on God and pursue thy object," after which he vanished from sight.
Mazin now proceeded into the islands, and did not stop till he had reached a verdant spot watered by clear rivulets, and shaded by lofty trees. It was now sunrise, and among the wonders which he beheld was a tree like the weeping willow, on which hung, by way of fruit, beautiful damsels, who exclaimed, "Praised be God our creator, and former of the islands of Waak al Waak." They then dropped from the tree and expired. At sight of this prodigy his senses were confounded, and he exclaimed, "By heavens, this is miraculously surprising!" When he had recovered himself, he roamed through the groves, and admired the contrivances of the Almighty till sunset, when he sat down to rest.
He had not sat long when there approached towards him a masculinely looking old woman of disagreeable countenance, at sight of whom Mazin was alarmed. The matron guessing that he was in fear of her, said to him, "What is thy name, what are thy wants? art thou of this country? Inform me; be not afraid or apprehensive, for I will request of God that I may be the means of forwarding thy wishes." On hearing these words the heart of Mazin was encouraged, and he rerelated to her his adventures from first to last. When she had heard them, she knew that he must be husband to the sister of her mistress, who was queen of the islands of Waak al Waak, and said, "Thy object is a difficult one, but I will assist thee all in my power."
The old woman now conducted Mazin through by-paths to the capital of the island, and led him unperceived in the darkness of night, when the inhabitants had ceased to pass through the streets, to her own house. She then set before him refreshments, and having eaten and drunk till he was satisfied, he praised God for his arrival; when the matron informed him concerning his wife, that she had endured great troubles and afflictions since her separation, and repented sincerely of her flight. Upon hearing this, Mazin wept bitterly, and fainted with anguish. When revived by the exertions of the old woman, she comforted him by promises of speedy assistance to complete his wishes, and left him to his repose.
Next morning the old woman desiring Mazin to wait patiently for her return, repaired to the palace, where she found the queen and her sisters in consultation concerning the wife of Mazin, and saying, "This wretch hath espoused a man, by whom she has children, but now she is returned, we will put her to death after divers tortures." Upon the entrance of the old lady they arose, saluted her with great respect, and seated her, for she had been their nurse. When she had rested a little, she said, "Were you not conversing about your unfortunate sister? but can ye reverse the decrees of God?" "Dear nurse," replied they, "no one can avoid the will of heaven, and had she wedded one of our own nature there would have been no disgrace, but she has married a human being of Bussorah, and has children by him, so that our species will despise us, and tauntingly say, ‘Your sister is a harlot.' Her death is therefore not to be avoided." The nurse rejoined, "If you put her to death your scandal will be greater than hers, for she was wedded lawfully, and her offspring is legitimate; but I wish to see her." The eldest sister answered, "She is now confined in a subterraneous dungeon;" upon which the nurse requested permission to visit her, which was granted, and one of the sisters attended to conduct her to the prison.
The nurse, on her arrival at the prison, found the wife of Mazin in great distress from the cruelty of her sisters. Her children were playing about her, but very pallid, from the closeness of their confinement. On the entrance of the nurse she stood up, made her obeisance, and began to weep, saying, "My dear nurse, I have been long in this dungeon, and know not what in the end may be my fate." The old woman kissed her cheeks, and said, "My dear daughter, God will bring thee relief, perchance on this very day."
When the wife of Mazin heard this, she said, "Good heavens! your words, my dear nurse, recall a gleam of comfort that last night struck across my mind from a voice, which said, ‘Be comforted, O wife of Mazin, for thy deliverance is near.'" Upon this the old woman replied, "Thou shalt indeed be comforted, for thy husband is at my abode, and will speedily release thee." The unfortunate prisoner, overcome with joy, fainted away, but was soon restored by the nurse's sprinkling water upon her face, when she opened her eyes and said, "I conjure thee by heaven, my dear nurse, inform me if thou speakest truth, or dissemblest." "I not only speak truth," answered the nurse, "but by God's help thou shalt meet thy husband this day." After this she left her.
The nurse, upon her return home, inquired of Mazin if he had skill to take his wife away, provided he was admitted into the dungeon at night. He replied, "Yes." When night was set in, she conducted him to the spot where she was confined, left him near the gate, and went her way. He then put on his cap of invisibility, and remained unperceived all night by any one. Early in the morning the queen, his wife's eldest sister, advanced, opened the gate of the prison, and entered, when he followed unseen behind her, and seated himself in a corner of the apartment. The queen went up to her sister, and beat her cruelly with a whip, while her children wept around her, till the blood appeared upon her body, when she left her hanging by her hair from a pillar, went out, and locked the door of the dungeon. Mazin now arose, unloosed his wife's hair, and pulling off the cap, appeared before her, when she exclaimed, "From whence didst thou come?" They then embraced each other, and he said. "Ah, why didst thou act thus, leave me in such affliction, and plunge thyself into such distress, which, indeed, thy conduct hath almost deserved?" "It is true," replied she; "but what is past is past, and reproach will not avail, unless thus canst effect our escape:" upon which he exclaimed, "Does thy inclination really lead thee to accompany me to my own country?" She answered,
"Yes; do with me what thou choosest."
They remained in endearment with their children until evening, when the keeper of the dungeon approaching, Mazin put on his cap of invisibility. The keeper having set down the provisions for the night, retired into a recess of the dungeon and fell asleep; when Mazin and his family sat down and refreshed themselves. Perceiving the keeper asleep, Mazin tried the door and found it unlocked; upon which, he, with his wife and children, left the prison, and travelled as quickly as possible all night. When the queen, in the morning, was informed of her sister's escape she was enraged, and made incantations, on which seven thousand genii attended, with whom she marched out in pursuit, resolved to cut the fugitives in pieces. Mazin, looking behind him, perceived a cloud of dust, and soon appeared the forces of his wife's sister, who cried out on seeing him, with dreadful howls, "Where will ye go, ye wretches, ye accursed? where can ye hide yourselves?" Upon this Mazin took out his drum, and beat it violently, when, lo! there appeared before him legions of genii, in number more than could be reckoned, and they fought with the armies of the queen, who was taken prisoner, with her principal attendants.
When the wife of Mazin beheld her sister in this distress her compassion was moved towards her, and she said to her husband, "Hurt not my sister, nor use her ill, for she is my elder:" upon which he treated her respectfully, and commanded tents to be pitched for her and her court.
Peace being established, the sisters took an affectionate leave, and Mazin, with his family, departed for the residence of Abd al Sulleeb, which they speedily reached with the assistance of the genii, and the directing ball. The old man received him kindly, and inquired his adventures, when he related them to him; at which he was surprised, especially at the account of the cap, the drum, and the ball; of which last Mazin begged his acceptance, being now near home, and having no farther occasion for its use. Abd al Sulleeb was much pleased, and entertained him magnificently for three days, when Mazin wishing to depart, the old man presented him with rich gifts, and dismissed him.
Mazin was continuing his route, when suddenly a band of a hundred banditti appeared, resolved to plunder and put him and his companions to death, with which design they kept advancing. Mazin called out to them, "Brother Arabs, let the covenant of God be between you and me, keep at a distance from me." When they heard this they increased their insolence, surrounded him, and supposed they should easily seize all that he had; but especially when they beheld his wife, and the beauty she was endowed with, they said one to another, "Let us put him to death, and not suffer him to live." Each man resolved within himself, saying," I will seize this damsel, and not take the plunder."
When Mazin saw that they were bent upon attacking him, to seize his wife and plunder his effects, he took out his drum and beat upon it in a slight manner, when, behold! ten genii appeared before him, requiring his commands. He replied, "I wish the dispersion of yonder horsemen;" upon which one of the ten advanced among the hundred banditti, and uttered such a tremendous yell as made the mountains reverberate the sound. Immediately as he sent forth the yell, the banditti, in alarm, dispersed themselves among the rocks, when such as fell from their horses' backs fled on foot; so that they lost their reputation, and were ridiculed among the chiefs of the Abbasside tribes. Mazin now pursued his journey, and did not halt till he had reached the abode of Abd al Kuddoos, who advanced to meet him and saluted him, but was astonished when he beheld his company, and the wealth he had obtained. Mazin related what had befallen him, of dangers, and hunger, and thirst; his safe arrival in the islands of Waak al Waak; the deliverance of his wife from prison, and the defeat of the army sent to oppose his return. He mentioned also the reconciliation between the sisters of his wife, and whatever had happened to him from first to last.
Abd al Kuddoos was greatly astonished at these adventures, and said to Mazin of Bussorah, "Truly, my son, these events are most surprising, and can have never occurred to any but thyself." Mazin remained three days to repose himself, and was treated with hospitality and respect until the fourth, when he resolved to continue his journey, and took leave. He proceeded towards his own country, and did not halt on the way till he arrived with the seven sisters, the owners of the palace, who had so much befriended him.
When Mazin of Bussorah arrived near the palace of the seven sisters, they came out to meet him, saluted him and his wife, and conducted them within; but they were astonished at his return, and at first could scarcely believe his success, wondering that he had not perished on the road, or been torn in pieces by the wild beasts of the desert; for they had regarded it as impossible that he should ever reach the islands of Waak al Waak.
When they were seated, they requested him to relate to them all that had befallen him, which he did from first to last, and they were more than ever astonished at his uncommon adventures. After this they introduced a collation, and spread the cloth, when they ate till they were satisfied, and then wrote a letter and dispatched it to the mother of Mazin, congratulating her on the health of her son, and his safe return with his wife and children.
Mazm remained with the ladies a month, enjoying himself in feasting and amusements, after which he begged permission to depart to his own country, for his heart was anxious for his mother. They dismissed him, and he travelled unceasingly till he arrived at Bussorah. He entered the city at sunset, and proceeded to his own house, when his mother came out, saluted him, and embraced him. She had erected her tomb in the court of her house, and had wept night and day till she became blind, but when the letter arrived from the sisters, from the rapture of joy her sight returned unto her again. She beheld the children of her son, embraced them, and that night was to her as an eed or festival.
When God had caused the morning to dawn, the chief personages of Bussorah visited Mazin to congratulate him on his return, and the principal ladies came to his mother, and rejoiced with her on the safety of her son. At length intelligence of it reached the caliph Haroon al Rusheed, who sent for Mazin to his presence. Having entered the audience chamber, he made the usual obeisance, when the caliph returned his salute, and commanded him to sit. When he was seated, the caliph demanded that he should relate the whole of what had befallen him, to which he answered, "To hear is to obey."
Mazin then recited his adventures from the time the fire- worshipper who had stolen him from his mother by his stratagems, the mode of his coming to the palace of the seven ladies, the manner in which he obtained his wife, her flight from the palace of the empress Zobeide, his journey to the islands of Waak al Waak, also the dangers and difficulties he had encountered from first to last. The caliph was astonished, and said, "The substance of these adventures must not be lost or concealed, but shall be recorded in writing." He then commanded an amanuensis to attend, and seated Mazin of Bussorah by him, until he had taken down his adventures from beginning to end.
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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