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Scott: The Story of the Second Lunatic

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My lord, I was by profession a merchant, and on my commencing business the youngest of my trade, having but just entered my sixteenth year. As I was one day busy in my warehouse, a damsel entering, put into my hands a packet, which, on opening, I found to contain several copies of verses in praise of myself, with a letter expressive of ardent affection for my person. Supposing them meant only as banter, I foolishly flew into a passion, seized the bearer, and beat her severely. On her departure, I reflected on my improper behaviour, dreaded lest she should complain to her relations, and that they might revenge themselves upon me by some sudden assault. I repented of what I had done, but alas! it was when repentance would not avail.

Ten days had passed, when, as I was sitting in my warehouse as usual, a young lady entered most superbly dressed, and odoriferously perfumed. She resembled in brightness the moon on its fourteenth night, so that when I gazed upon her my senses forsook me, and I was incapable of attention to any thing but herself. She addressed me, saying, "Young man, have you in your warehouse any female ornaments?" to which I replied, "Of all sorts, my lady, that you can possibly require." Upon this she desired to see some bracelets for the ankles, which I shewed her, when holding out her foot, she desired me to try them on. I did so. After this, she asked for a necklace, and opening her veil, made me tie it on. She then chose a pair of bracelets, and extending her hands, desired me to put them on her wrists, which I did; after which, she inquired the amount of the whole, when I exclaimed, "Fair lady, accept them as a present, and inform me whose daughter thou art." She replied, "I am the daughter of the chief magistrate;" when I said, "My wish is to demand thee in marriage of thy father." She consented that I should, but observed, "When you ask me of my father, he will say, I have only one daughter, who is a cripple, and wretchedly deformed. Do thou, however, reply, that thou art willing to accept her, and if he remonstrates, still insist upon wedding her." I then asked when I should make my proposals. She replied, "The best time to visit my father is on the Eed al Koorbaun, which is three days hence, as thou wilt then find with him all his relations and friends, and our espousals will add to his festivity."

Agreeably to the lady's instructions, on the third day following I repaired with several of my friends to the house of the chief magistrate, and found him sitting in state, receiving the compliments of the day from the chief inhabitants of the city. We made our obeisance, which he graciously noticed, received us with kindness, and entered familiarly into conversation. A collation was brought in, the cloth spread, and we partook with him of the viands, after which we drank coffee. I then stood up, saying, "My lord, I am desirous of espousing the chaste lady your daughter, more precious than the richest gem."

When the chief magistrate heard my speech, he inclined his head for some time towards the earth in deep thought, after which he said, "Son, my daughter is an unfortunate cripple, miserably deformed." To this I replied, "To have her for my wife is all I wish." The magistrate then said, "If thou wilt have a wife of this description, it must be on condition that she shall not be taken from my house, that thou shalt consummate the marriage here, and abide with me." I replied, "To hear is to obey;" believing that she was the beautiful damsel who had visited my warehouse, and whose charms I had so rapturously beheld. In short, the nuptial ceremony was performed, when I said to myself, "Heavens! is it possible that I am become master of this beautiful damsel, and shall possess her charms!"

When night set in, the domestics of the chief magistrate introduced me into the chamber of my bride. I ran eagerly to gaze upon her beauty, but guess my mortification when I beheld her a wretched dwarf, a cripple, and deformed, as her father had represented. I was overcome with horror at the sight of her, distracted with disappointment, and ashamed of my own foolish credulity, but I dared not complain, as I had voluntarily accepted her as my wife from the magistrate: I sat down silently in one corner of the chamber, and she in another, for I could not bring myself to approach her, as she was disgusting to the sight of man, and my soul could not endure her company.

At day-break I left the house of my father-in-law, repaired to my warehouse, which I opened, and sat down much distressed in mind, with my head dizzy, like one suffering from intoxication, when lo! who should appear before me but the lady who had put upon me so mortifying a trick. She entered, and paid me the customary salute. I was enraged, and began to abuse her, saying, "Wherefore hast thou put upon me such a stratagem?" when she replied, "Wretch, recollect the day that I brought thee a packet, in return for which you seized, beat, reviled, and drove me scornfully away. In retaliation for such treatment, I have taken revenge by giving thee such a delectable bride." I now fell at her feet, entreated her forgiveness, and expressed my repentance; upon which, smiling upon me, she said, "Be not uneasy, for as I have plunged thee into a dilemma, I will also relieve thee from it. Go to the aga of the leather-dressers, give him a sum of money, and desire him to call thee his son; then repair with him, attended by his followers and musicians, to the house of the chief magistrate. When he inquires the cause of their coming, let the aga say, ‘ My lord, we are come to congratulate thy son-in- law, who is my beloved child, on his marriage with thy daughter, and to rejoice with him.' The magistrate will be furiously enraged, and exclaim, ‘Dog, is it possible that, being a leather- dresser, thou durst marry the daughter of the chief magistrate?' Do thou then reply, ‘My lord, my ambition was to be ennobled by your alliance, and as I have married your lordship's daughter, the mean appellation of leather-dresser will soon be forgotten and lost in the glorious title of the son-in-law of your lordship; I shall be promoted under your protection, and purified from the odour of the tan-pit, so that my offspring will smell as sweet as that of a syed."

I did as the lady had directed me, and having bribed the chief of the leather-dressers, he accompanied me with the body of his trade, and a numerous party of musicians, vocal and instrumental, to my father-in-law's house, before which they began to sing and dance with great clamour every now and then crying out, "Long live our noble kinsman! Long live the son-in-law of the chief magistrate!" The magistrate inquired into the cause of our intrusive rejoicing, when I told him my kinsfolk were congratulating me upon my alliance with his illustrious house, and come to thank him for the honour he had done the whole body of leather-dressers in my person. The chief magistrate on hearing this was passionately enraged, and abused me; but reflecting that without my consent the supposed disgrace of his noble house could not be done away, he became calm, and offered me money to divorce his daughter. At first I pretended unwillingness, but at length affecting to be moved by his earnest entreaties, accepted forty purses of gold, which he gave me to repudiate my deformed wife, and I returned home with a lightened heart. The day following, the lady came to my warehouse, when I thanked her for having freed me from my ridiculous marriage, and begged her to accept of me as a husband. To this she consented, but said she was, she feared, too meanly born for me to marry, as her father was but a cook, though of eminence in his way, and very rich. I replied, "Even though he were a leather-dresser, thy charms would grace a throne." In short, my lord, we were married, and have lived together very happily from the day of our union to the present time.

Such is my story, but it is not so surprising as that of the learned man and his pupil, whose adventures were among the miracles of the age, which I will relate.

[Go to The Story of the Retired Sage and His Pupil, Related to the Sultan by the Second Lunatic ]

Scott, Jonathan (1754-1829). The Arabian Nights Entertainments. London: Pickering and Chatto, 1890. 4 Volumes. Project Gutenberg.

1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM

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